Warnings for severe weather serve no purpose if people are unaware that they have been issued.

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 serving the general public and mariners.

Partially driven by the tornado outbreak of April 3, 1974, in a White House policy statement issued the following January of 1975, 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.

 

First generation of NOAA Weather Radio in which manual recordings were made on 8-track tapes. A warning, when issued, would alert anyone in the broadcast range of the transmitter.
Next came a digital recording system, which still required a human operator, but began the first step in allowing for an individual county to be warned. Called "SAME" which stands for "Specific Area Message Encoder" was a major improvement. Overall broadcast quality improved with digital capabilities.

 

Now more than 550 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.  The weather radio coverage is now around 97% across the country. Nationwide, NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts on 7 frequencies, making it simple to tune in a NWR broadcast as you move. Portable NWR receivers are becoming more popular with outdoor sporting enthusiast making it an essential part of outdoor gear.

Advocates of NOAA Weather Radio, now named NOAA All-Hazards Radio, foresee a future for specially-tailored "narrow-casts." 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 Office of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the FCC, private industry and state and local governments to expand NOAA All-Hazards Radio network. All-hazards broadcasts warning information on earthquakes, volcano activity, and other natural and man-made hazardous conditions (such as a HAZMAT spill), nuclear power plant malfunctions, and potential terrorist threats. NOAA All-Hazard Radio will also be used for communicating relief information after such disasters.

The goal of the NWS is to someday have a NOAA All-Hazard Radio in every home, just like a smoke detector. These radios should be in all schools, hospitals and other public gathering places, giving people the kind of information they need to safeguard themselves and their homes during, and after a disaster.

 

Eastern Kentucky is served by 19 transmitters which are placed throughout the region to provide the best weather radio coverage possible. NWR is one of the most dependable and timely ways to receive warnings and advisories as well as the local forecast for the area served by that transmitter.

 

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