Ms. Maria Torres and Pastor Abiel Ake of Radio Esperanza, in the broadcast cabin
NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley Forecaster Maria Torres with Pastor Abiel Ake at the Radio Esperanza studios in Edinburg, Texas
Two Nations, One Broadcast
Radio Hour Brings Weather Readiness Across Borders

National Weather Service Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley, in collaboration with Radio Esperanza KOIR 88.5 FM and KRIO 97.7 FM/910 AM, a Christian non–profit radio station with extensive coverage from Laredo through the Rio Grande Valley of Texas into much of northeastern Mexico, invited Forecaster Maria Torres to participate in "La Hora Comunitaria" (Community Hour), a monthly Spanish–Language interview focused on providing important information to help the Hispanic community prepare for different hazards across the Rio Grande Valley and northeastern Mexico, and educate them about our mission to build Weather Ready Nations. The once–per–month broadcasts are scheduled to continue through the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season and beyond.

On November 13th, Ms. Torres conducted her inaugural broadcast on La Hora Comunitaria. She explained the National Weather Service structure and functions in Spanish before turning the focus on Winter Weather Awareness Day in Texas and how to prepare for hazards, such as freezing temperatures, wind chill, and fog. Following the thirty–five minute interview, phone lines were opened for listener questions.

NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley Forecaster Maria Torres monitors incoming calls and social media posts during radio broadcast
Ms. Torres monitors incoming phone calls and social media posts during radio broadcast.

"There are a lot of non–English speakers across the Rio Grande Valley that do not take preparedness seriously. Some do not know the services we provide. What better way to share this valuable information then with the radio listeners across the Rio Grande Valley and northeast Mexico that cross the border every day!" said Ms. Torres.

NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley Forecaster Maria Torres conducts radio broadcast from Radio Esperanza studios in Edinburg, Texas, on November 13 2013

Each interview is different. On December 11th, the broadcast focused on how National Weather Service field staff does their job, and the difference between a Watch and a Warning was explained. Torres also shared the importance of the NOAA Weather Radio, and briefly mentioned two Spanish Language transmitters which are scheduled to begin broadcasting to the Rio Grande Valley in 2014.

Radio Esperanza has a large footprint in Mexico. By day, transmitters in Roma (Starr County) and Edinburg (Hidalgo County) cover the entire Rio Grande Valley and much of the Ranchlands south of Laredo, as well as cities and towns in northern Tamaulipas (State), Mexico. At night, coverage on KRIO 910–AM typically reaches well into Tamaulipas and Nuevo Léon. On nights with strong inversions, Radio Esperanza KRIO 910–AM can reach nearly all of eastern Mexico, including the Yucatán Peninsula, more than 700 miles away. Spotty coverage has been received in Guatamala and Honduras, nearly 1000 miles away (map, below)! The station also had a large and growing social media presence, with nearly 25 thousand followers on Facebook in mid December 2013.

Map of transmitters and cities/towns where Radio Esperanza is heard each day or night in the U.S. and Mexico (click to enlarge)
Map of transmitter locations (large yellow dots) and reception locations (small yellow dots) in the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras, for KRIO 910–AM, Radio Esperanza.
Map of transmitters and cities/towns where Radio Esperanza is heard each day or night in the U.S. and Mexico (click to enlarge)
Photo collage from the "Feria de Salud" (Health Fair) in Edinburg, Texas, sponsored by Radio Esperanza. From left: Forecaster Maria Torres explaining how tornadoes work to an inquisitive youngster; the full booth, featuring Ms. Torres and her son, Daniel; the crowds visiting various tents.

Radio Esperanza Feria de Salud (Health Fair)
On Saturday, December 14th 2013, Radio Esperanza invited National Weather Service Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley to staff a booth at a pre–holiday "Feria de Salud" (Health Fair) for the community at the City of Edinburg Municipal Park. Nearly 1,500 visitors attended the event; many of them dropped by the booth to visit Ms. Torres and pick up brochures and other information about our services, the new NOAA Weather Radio transmitters, and preparedness information. Many young children were mesmerized with the mini–tornado chamber and the weather balloon and radiosonde.

"It is always very rewarding to show our unique Rio Grande Valley community what we do, and let them know about the different services we provide to help keep them safe before, during, and after hazardous weather events.” Torres said. The Director of Radio Esperanza, Gerardo Lorenzo, is very grateful and blessed to have National Weather Service Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley serve the community on both sides of the border.


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