NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio

NOAA Weather Radio Facts

  • NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information direct from a nearby National Weather Service (NWS) office. Known as the "Voice of the National Weather Service," NWR transmission is provided as a public service by the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The broadcast is on the high frequency end of the public service band, and can most commonly be received by an NWR receiver.
  • Many NWR receivers are equipped with a special alert tone feature that will sound an alert and give you immediate information about a life threatening weather or other local emergency situation.
  • NWR units can be programmed to receive watches and warnings for specific counties, so you can control which area your radio will monitor severe weather alerts for.
  • Anytime of the day or night, anytime of the year, NWR units are able to broadcast weather and emergency watches and warnings for your local area.  The NWS recommends having multiple ways to receive a warning, and NWR can act as one such way 24 hours a day.  One of the greatest benefits of this, is a way to receive a warning during the night when you and your family are sleeping.  Tornadoes, Mothers Nature's most violent storm on land, can happen at night.
  • Because “America Is Safer When Our Schools Are Safer,” the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Education joined forces in this important project to protect students and teachers. Life-saving NOAA Public Alert Radios were sent to 97,000 public schools across the country in 2005 and 2006.  An additional 183,000 were distributed to private and post-secondary schools during 2008. In the NWS Chanhassen County Warning Area, around 2,100 public and private schools received their radios by the middle of 2008.
  • NWR is the only system in the U.S. capable of reaching people that are deaf or hard of hearing in emergencies. It has the ability to reach more than 28 million Americans that are deaf or hard of hearing.  While verbal broadcasts are of little value to reach these people, non-verbal information imbedded in the broadcasts can provide timely, critical warnings of life threatening events. Some receivers are also equipped with special output connectors that activate non-verbal alerting devices such as bed/pillow shakers, and strobe lights. More information can be found here.
  • Environment Canada operates weather radio stations across Canada. Information is available on Weather Radio in Canada.
  • NWR receivers can most commonly be found in radio equipment, hardware, and outdoor equipment stores.  In the Twin Cities metro area and southern Minnesota, they can also be purchased at some grocery stores. Details on purchasing an NWR receiver can be found here. For information on weather radio receiver recalls, go to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) web site and choose "Radios (Weather)" in the product type list.

NOAA Weather Radio Transmitter Channels

There are more than 900 NWR transmitters across the United States. Broadcasts can be heard on the public service band on the following seven frequencies (MHz): 162.400, 162.425, 162.450, 162.475, 162.500, 162.525 and 162.550. NWR coverage is expanding through partnership programs with local communities. For a listing of all NWR transmitters across the United States, check out the national NWR web page.

The first step of programming your NWR unit is setting the broadcast channel to the correct transmitter frequency.  The NWS Forecast Office in Chanhassen delivers broadcast programming for a total of 13 NWR transmitters.  Information on these is found in the table below.  Click on the the map under the "Counties" section of each transmitter to get a geographical depiction of the particular transmitter alert area. 

Call      Letters   



Coverage Area Descriptor



St. Paul, MN 
(Twin Cities Metro Area)


East central Minnesota and west central Wisconsin, including the Minneapolis/St Paul metro area. 

MSP Transmitter Coverage Area (Click to Enlarge)


St. Cloud, MN 


Portions of central Minnesota, including the greater St. Cloud area.

STC Transmitter Coverage Area (Click to Enlarge)


New London, MN (Willmar Area)


Portions of central Minnesota, including Willmar and Litchfield.

Willmar Transmitter Coverage Area (Click to Enlarge)


Janesville, MN(Mankato Area)


South central Minnesota, including the greater Mankato area.

MKT Transmitter Coverage Area (Click to Enlarge)


Wheeler, WI (Eau Claire Area)


Much of west central Wisconsin, including Eau Claire, Menomonie, and Chippewa Falls.

EAU Transmitter Coverage Area (Click to Enlarge)


New Ulm


Portions of south central Minnesota, including New Ulm and St. James.

ULM Transmitter Coverage Area (Click to Enlarge)


Tony, WI (Ladysmith, WI Area)


Portions of northwest Wisconsin, including Ladysmith.

LAD Transmitter Coverage Area (Click to Enlarge)


Long Prairie


A portion of central Minnesota, including Long Prairie and Little Falls.

LGP Transmitter Coverage Area (Click to Enlarge)




Portions of central Minnesota, stretching from the northern Twin Cities metro area up through St Cloud.

CLR Transmitter Coverage Area (Click to Enlarge)


Norwood-Young America


A small portion of central Minnesota stretching from the southwest Twin Cities suburbs westward through Hutchinson.

NOR Transmitter Coverage Area (Click to Enlarge)




A portion of west central Minnesota, including the Alexandria area.

KEN Transmitter Coverage Area (Click to Enlarge)




A portion of central and southwestern Minnesota, including Redwood Falls and Olivia.

OVL Transmitter Coverage Area (Click to Enlarge)


Red Wing


Portions of east central and southeastern Minnesota, and west central Wisconsin. Broadcast area includes Red Wing, Hastings and River Falls.

RED Transmitter Coverage Area (Click to Enlarge)

You can also find your county by this tabular listing alphabetized by county. 

A map of transmitter locations in Minnesota and western Wisconsin reveals some form of coverage throughout almost all of the local area. The broadcast range for these transmitters depends on a number of factors, including signal strength, terrain, quality of your weather radio, and current environmental and weather conditions. Typically, broadcasts can reach about 40 miles away from the transmitter location.  A link is now available for reporting a problem with an NWR transmitter.

Central and Southern Minnesota NWR Coverage


Western Wisconsin NWR Coverage

Central and South Central Minnesota NOAA Weather Radio Coverage   Western Wisconsin NOAA Weather Radio Coverage
NWR Computer Derived Signal Coverage Maps:
One can click on the transmitter area or select from below the map for higher detail.

These computer derived signal coverage maps are calculated using a computer model and station data under ideal conditions. The maps are shown in a three color format, which relates to the three estimated broadcast signal levels:  

White: Signal level of greater than 18 dbd usually indicates reliable reception.
Green: 0 dbd to 18 dbd usually indicates that signal reception is possible but unreliable.
Pink: Less than 0 dbd usually indicates that the signal will not be received.

Additional information is available for these coverage maps.

S.A.M.E. Codes

With the implementation of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Specific Area Message Encoding (S.A.M.E.), it is now possible to program most weather radios to sound an alert for only the counties desired in a specific NWR's broadcast area. The owner of a NWR receiver with S.A.M.E. technology would program the desired county or counties into the radio. It will then alert the user only to weather emergencies for the specific area(s) programmed. Older (non-S.A.M.E.) NWR receivers without S.A.M.E. capability would alert for emergencies anywhere within the coverage area of the NWR transmitter, even though the emergency could be well away from the listener. The S.A.M.E. technology can eliminate this appearance of over-warning.


F.I.P.S. Map (Click to Enlarge)
Area S.A.M.E. Codes
(Click to Enlarge)


The links below provide a text listing of NWR S.A.M.E. County Codes:

Minnesota   |   Wisconsin   |   Other States

When the NWS broadcasts an urgent audio message, a digital S.A.M.E. burst of information is also broadcast. This S.A.M.E. code contains information on the type of message, county(s) affected, and expiration time of the message (the S.A.M.E. code broadcast can be heard as three brief bursts of static). An appropriately programmed NWR with S.A.M.E. technology will then turn on upon receiving the information burst.

Tone Alerted Products by the NWS Chanhassen, MN Weather Forecast Office:
Blizzard Warning
Civil Danger Warning
Flash Flood Warning
Evacuation Immediate Warning
Routine Weekly Test*
Fire Warning
Severe Thunderstorm Warning
Hazardous Materials Warning
Severe Thunderstorm Watch
Law Enforcement Warning
Tornado Warning
Nuclear Power Plant Warning
Tornado Watch
Radiological Hazards Warning
 Any Weather Appearing Life-Threatening
Shelter-In-Place Warning

* = Newer models do not alert for the test
^ = Not all products may be used by MN and WI state departments at this time
You can find out more information about S.A.M.E. Technology or EAS Broadcasts from the National Weather Service.

Broadcast Guide

Each NWS local office tailors their broadcasts to the local listening areas.  There are "routine," "severe weather watch," and "severe weather warning" broadcasts.  NWR broadcast programming changes significantly during the latter two and focus on keeping you informed of the latest severe weather statements and warnings.

A test of the NWR warning alarm is conducted by the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Chanhassen, MN every Wednesday afternoon around 1 PM.  If severe weather threatens near the normal test time, the test will be postponed until the first available good weather day.  Receipt of this test is the most preferred way to ensure your radio is programmed correctly to receive watches and warnings!

The routine broadcast schedule for each of our NWR transmitters includes the following:

  • A regional synopsis and general forecast for the five state region including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the eastern Dakotas.
  • The 7-day local forecast specified for the transmitter coverage area.  This is updated a minimum of two times daily, and more frequently as conditions change.
  • Current weather conditions for cities in Minnesota and across the Upper Midwest. These are broadcast continuously and updated hourly.
  • A Hazardous Weather Outlook highlighting chances for any potentially hazardous weather in the next seven days.  This includes a message for our Skywarn storm spotters about possible activation.  The outlook will play each day from roughly 4:30 to 10:30 am, unless there is a threat of severe weather later that day or night, in which case it will play through the duration of the threat.
  • A short term forecast is broadcast when precipitation and other significant weather events are occurring across the area.
  • Daily climate data is broadcast from 8:00 to 10:00 A.M. and from 7:00 to 10:00 P.M., if available.  Monthly climate summaries are broadcast on the first three days of each month, from Noon to 7:00 P.M. where available.

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