National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio is a nationwide network of radio stations operated by local National Weather Service offices. The continuous broadcasts provide current weather warnings, forecasts, and conditions and is the best method to receive severe weather warnings. When forecasters issue warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flash floods; special receivers sound a tone which alert people even if they’re sleeping, outdoors, watching satellite TV, don’t live near a warning siren, or the electricity is off. The tone alarm will also be used to notify people about other emergencies, such as hazardous materials spills or terrorist activities. Even during quiet weather, you can tune into your local NOAA Weather Radio station for forecasts to help you plan your day.
Special receivers needed to hear the broadcast and sound the tone alarm; they can be purchased at electronics, discount, sporting goods, or hardware stores. You can also order them from catalogs specializing in outdoor equipment, weather-related items, or ranch and farm supplies. The cost of a receiver ranges from $30 to $100. You should ensure the model you purchase has battery backup, tone alarm, and seven channel features (if you have an older model radio with three channels, you can’t pick up the signals from the new stations). You may need an external antenna depending on the construction of your building or your location inside it or if you’re in an area of marginal reception. You may also want to consider a receiver that can be programmed to alert only for your county and eliminates alerts for storms that won’t affect you; this feature is called SAME for Specific Area Message Encoding. Some radios have an extra jack for a visual signal for hearing impaired people or use in a high-noise area.
Scanners, hand-held, and mobile radios can also be programmed to receive the weather radio signals.