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The National Weather Service has maps of NOAA Weather Radio coverage by state, and listings of coverage by both state and county. There are also computer-projected signal reception maps for each transmitter. Go to: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/listcov.htm
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The hearing and visually impaired can also receive warning alarms by connecting a specially-designed weather radio to other kinds of attention-getting devices like strobe lights, bed-shakers, personal computers and text printers. Many pager companies now offer alerting pagers that provide the latest weather information.
For more information on Special Needs Weather Radio receivers, go to: https://www.nssl.noaa.gov/NWR/ , or http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/special_need.htm .
Yes, NOAA Weather Radio is considered an “All-Hazards” public warning system, and will alert the listening public to non-weather emergencies, but ONLY when requested by the appropriate state or local officials. These include technological accidents (e.g., chemical releases, oil spills, nuclear power plant emergencies), AMBER alerts (for abducted children), and terrorist attacks.
Generally, only those watches and warnings associated with an immediate or short-fused event are toned and alarmed. That means that Winter Storm watches and warnings are NOT alarmed, except for Blizzard warnings and for those Winter Storm warnings when the lead time is very short. Normally, Winter Storm warnings are issued many hours before the precipitation begins, as opposed to Tornado or Flash Flood warnings, where the lead time may only be minutes.
The following products are broadcast with the 1050 Hz alarm and the SAME tones:
Blizzard Warning – BZW
Child Abduction Emergency - CAE
Civil Emergency Message – CEM
Coastal Flood Warning - CFW
Coastal Flood Watch - CFA
Flash Flood Warning - FFW
Flash Flood Watch - FFA
High Wind Warning - HWW
Hurricane Warning - HUW
Hurricane Watch - HUA
River Flood Warning - FLW
Routine Weekly Test – RWT
Special Marine Warning - SMW
Severe Weather Statement - SVS
Severe Thunderstorm Warning - SVR
Severe Thunderstorm Watch – SVA
Tropical Storm Warning - TRW
Tropical Storm Watch - TRA
Tornado Warning - TOR
Tornado Watch - TOA
Tsunami Warning - TSW
Tsunami Watch - TSA
A special feature of the NOAA Weather Radio system that evolved in the 1960's was the transmission of a single tone at 1050 Hz prior to the broadcast of any message about a life or property threatening event. This became known as the Warning Alarm Tone (WAT). Special receivers were made by several companies to remain electronically on and receiving the broadcast signal, but with the speaker muted. When this type of radio detected the WAT, it automatically turned on the speaker allowing the message to be heard without the need for the owner/user to do anything.
In the Spring of 1974, the largest recorded outbreak of tornadoes in the nation’s history occurred. Conclusions of a survey following the disaster recommended the expansion of the Weather Radio network and to designate it as the only Federally operated broadcast system to communicate life and property threatening information “directly” to the public. This system was also tasked to disseminate nuclear attack warnings and other national emergencies. Techniques were developed allowing warnings broadcast over the Weather Radio to be rebroadcast over commercial radio and television stations as part of the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS).
The analog WAT technology served the Weather Radio network well until the mid 1980s, when the rapid expansion of cable television and the automation of commercial radio and television began to isolate the public from local sources of warning information. Typically, the WAT was transmitted for any watch or warning over an area of approximately 5,000 square miles, or about seven to ten average-sized counties.
Therefore, the typical receiver in the service area of the station might be activated many times for events far from its location for every time it alarmed for an event in the immediate area. Without staff at media facilities to manually evaluate the need to rebroadcast a Weather Radio message using the EBS, automatic rebroadcasting of all messages preceded by just the WAT was unacceptable and impractical. Even if stations and others with that type of need were willing to allow for this type of automatic capture, assuming the events for activation were critical, there was no way for automated equipment at the station to know when the message was complete and restore it back to normal operation. There was also the perception by the general public with WAT decoding receivers that any message that set their radio off that did not apply to their geographical area was a “false alarm” regardless of whether the warning may have been valid for another area or county in the service area of the Weather Radio transmitter.
Starting in 1985, the NWS began experimenting with putting special digital codes at the beginning and end of any message concerning life or property threatening event. The intent was to ultimately transmit a code with the initial broadcast of all Weather Radio messages. This system evolved into what is known today as NOAA Weather Radio Specific Area Message Encoding (NWR SAME). The SAME was adopted by the NWS for national implementation in 1988. Full scale implementation was funded by the NWS in early 1996 when the SAME technique was adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as part of its new Emergency Alert System (EAS) that replaced the EBS in January 1997. The NOAA Weather Radio was an officially designated source for EAS messages from the NWS.
The SAME process was originally achieved using an encoder panel consisting of a number of buttons representing the functions to be performed, types or content of messages, the affected areas, and valid time of the message. A microprocessor in the panel interpreted button active status and created the proper codes and places them at the beginning and end of each message. The panel was electronically connected to the various types of message programming and playback consoles used by the NWS to broadcast messages over the Weather Radio transmitters. In 1998, the NWS replaced all of its existing inventory of message recording and playback equipment with the Console Replacement System (CRS). The SAME coding process is an integrated part of CRS. The existing encoder panels are only used as emergency backup in CRS.
NOAA Weather Radio is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from National Weather Service (NWS) offices across the country. The broadcasts include warnings, watches, forecasts, current weather observations, and other hazard information, 24 hours a day.
Working with the Federal Communications Commission's Emergency Alert System, NOAA Weather Radio is an "all hazards" radio network, making it the single source for the most comprehensive weather and emergency information available to the public. It broadcasts warning and post-event information for all types of hazards - both natural (such as tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis) and technological (such as chemical releases or oil spills). NOAA Weather Radio will also be used to broadcast AMBER alerts for missing children.
Known as the "Voice of the National Weather Service," the NOAA Weather Radio network has more than 750 transmitters, covering nearly 90% of the 50 states, along with the adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Pacific Territories. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts in the VHF public service band (between 162.400 and 162.550 megahertz (MHz)) and hence you need a special radio receiver or scanner in order to pick up the signal.
County SAME # NWR Transmitter Call Sign Frequency STATUS
Grand 008049 North Cottonwood WZ2544 162.500 NORMAL
Grand 008049 Steamboat Springs KWN56 162.525 NORMAL