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Please see the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards website and your radio manual. If you have further questions, please write, e-mail, or phone the NWS office that serves your area (see this map to find the right office).
Different people have different weather information needs. A general recommendation is to include the county you are in, plus one or two nearby counties, particularly those to the northwest, west, and southwest. If you plan to use the radio for road trips, you can save money by buying a non-SAME radio, which will alert for all watches and warnings transmitted from the nearest NWR station.
FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) or SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) codes are the same. They are six-digit numbers that represent all, or part of, a county, independent city, or parish. The second and third digits represent the state (for example, 40 = Oklahoma); the fourth through sixth digits represent the county/city/parish (for example, 109 = Oklahoma County in Oklahoma), and the first digit identifies what section of that county, city, or parish is being described. That digit is usually a zero, which means "all" the area defined by the other five digits.
Several people have written or phoned with this complaint with the added comment that they turned the radio's alert feature off. We really don't want you to do that! The purpose of the WR-SAME technology was to help prevent this from happening.
If your radio alarms for distant warnings, one of two things has probably happened. Either you purchased a radio that is not SAME-compatible (if you can't program county codes into it, it's not SAME-compatible) or your radio is not programmed for the right counties. Check to ensure that the "FIPS Code" list contains only the code for the county you are in, and perhaps one or two nearby counties. Also be sure that any "wild card" entries are removed (for example, "999999" is often used as an "all counties" indicator).
Other possible explanations (which are much less common) include a miscoded warning or a defective radio.
This page provides information about special-needs NOAA weather radios. The information is intended to assist those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
No. However, we - and other offices - do have near-real-time recordings in MP3 format. Some private meteorology websites may include live rebroadcasts.