NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards is a service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC). As the "Voice of NOAA's National Weather Service", it provides continuous broadcasts of the latest weather information from NOAA's National Weather Service's local offices. Weather messages are repeated several times each hour, and are routinely updated every 1 to 3 hours or more frequently in rapidly changing local weather, or if a nearby hazardous environmental condition exists. The service operates 24 hours daily.
The regular broadcasts are specifically tailored to weather information needs of the people within the service area of the transmitter. For example, in addition to general weather information, stations in coastal areas provide information of interest to mariners. Other specialized information, such as hydrological forecasts and climatological data, may be broadcast.
During severe weather, NOAA's National Weather Service's forecasters can interrupt the routine weather broadcasts and insert special warning messages concerning imminent hazards to life and property. The forecaster can also add special signals to warnings that trigger "alerting" features of specially equipped receivers. This is known as the tone alert feature, and acts much like a smoke detector in that it will alarm when necessary to warn of an impending hazard. The old generation of weather radio receivers equipped with the tone alert feature will alarm when the tone alert feature is activated for any part of the listening area. However, the new generation of receivers (which are now being sold nationwide) can be programed to only alarm for a specific county or counties or for specific events. This feature is referred to as Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME), and is the primary activator for the new Emergency Alert System that has been implemented by the Federal Communication Commission.
Under a January 1975 White House policy statement, NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards was designated the sole government-operated radio system to provide direct warnings into private homes for both natural disasters and nuclear attack. This concept is being expanded to include warnings for all hazardous conditions that imperil life and safety, both at a local and national level.
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards currently broadcasts from over 400 FM transmitters on seven frequencies in the VHF band, ranging from 162.400 to 162.550 megahertz (MHz) in fifty states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and Saipan. These frequencies are outside the normal AM or FM broadcast bands.
Special radios that receive only NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, both with and without the tone alert feature, are available from several manufacturers. The radios can usually be found at most department and electronics stores. In addition, other manufacturers are including NOAA Weather Radio All Hazard as a special feature on an increasing number of receivers. NOAA Weather Radio All Hazard capability is currently available on some automobile, aircraft, marine, citizens band, and standard AM/FM radios, as well as communications receivers, transceivers and scanners.
By nature and by design, NOAA Weather Radio All Hazard coverage is typically limited to an area within 40 miles of the transmitter. The quality of what is heard is dictated by the distance from the transmitter, local terrain, and the quality and location of the receiver. In general, those on flat terrain or at sea, using a high quality receiver, can expect reliable reception far beyond 40 miles. Those living in cities surrounded by large buildings, and those in mountain valleys, with standard receivers may experience little or no reception at considerably less than 40 miles. If possible, a receiver should be tested in the location where it will be used prior to purchase.
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazard is directly available to approximately 70 to 80 percent of the U.S. population. NOAA's National Weather Service is currently engaged in a program to increase coverage to 95 percent of the population.
If you have a question regarding technical aspects of NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (such as reception and transmitter characteristics of a station) or are interested in becoming a partner with NOAA's National Weather Service in identifying or providing local funding and facilities for the installation of a NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards transmitter, please contact NOAA's National Weather Service, Dissemination Systems Section (Attn: W/OSO153), 1325 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
If you have a question regarding the weather information broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, please contact the local NOAA's National Weather Service office that does the programming for the station, or NOAA's National Weather Service, Warning and Forecast Branch (Attn: W/OM11), 1325 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
If you are curious about NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards coverage across Lower Michigan, and whether or not warnings are tone alerted for your county, visit our NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards Coverage Across Lower Michigan section.