NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts began in the 1950s when the old Weather Bureau started broadcasting aviation weather on two stations. In the 1960s, stations were added for the marine community, and by the late 1970s, the system included more than 300 stations.
Partially driven by the Super Outbreak of April 1974, a January 1975 White House policy statement, designated NOAA Weather Radio as the sole government-operated radio system to provide direct warnings into private homes for both natural disasters and nuclear attack.
Now more than 450 transmitters provide coverage to most of the Nation's population. Additional transmitters, funded through partnerships with local industry and government agencies, are expanding the system's coverage to isolated areas, in an effort to increase the weather radio coverage from 75% of the US population to 95%.
Advocates of NOAA Weather Radio foresee a future for specially-tailored "narrowcasts." Such messages, for example, would automatically warn mariners about extremely high tides by sending a special message to receivers equipped with SAME technology. New partnerships have developed between the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the FCC, private industry and state and local governments to expand NOAA Weather Radio into an "all-hazards" network. All-hazards broadcasts air warning information on earthquakes, volcano activity, and other natural and man-made hazardous conditions (such as a HAZMAT spill), and are used for communicating relief information after such disasters.
The goal of the NWS is to someday have a NOAA Weather Radio in every home, just like a smoke detector, and in all schools, hospitals and other public gathering places, giving people the kind of information they need to safeguard themselves and their homes during a disaster.