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National Weather Service
Do you have questions or comments about weather radio?
National Weather Service Weather Radio (NWR) is a service that broadcasts on seven VHF Band frequencies ranging from 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz. These frequencies are outside the normal AM or FM broadcast bands found on the average home radio.
These broadcasts originate from local National Weather Service (NWS) offices across the United States. As the Voice of the National Weather Service, weather radio provides continuous broadcasts of the latest weather information. Broadcasts can be heard as far away as 40 miles from the antenna site. However, the effective range depends on several factors, including the terrain, quality of the receiver, and current weather conditions.
NWS Weather Radio provides dependable and timely weather information at your fingertips. From day-to-day weather forecasts to warnings of deadly storms, NWR is always available, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The broadcast schedule consists of messages which are repeated every three to five minutes and are routinely revised to provide up-to-date information.
During severe weather or other potentially hazardous events, the regularly scheduled programming is interrupted to substitute severe weather (including warnings, watches, etc.) or other hazardous informational messages. Special NWR receivers can be activated, sounding an alarm indicating that important information soon follows. Tests of the warning alarm are normally conducted by NWS Norman every Wednesday around 12:00 pm and 7:00 pm local time.
NWR can also be used to alert you to non-weather related emergencies, such as earthquakes, toxic or chemical spills, national attacks, or nuclear blasts. Many local retailers or electronics stores sell NWS Weather Radios.
The National Weather Service encourages everyone to use weather radio to receive life-saving warnings and other information from the National Weather Service in Norman. The warning alarm precedes tornado and severe thunderstorm watches, and tornado, severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings, as well as other emergency messages, and is designed to activate specially designed weather radio receivers, providing audible and/or visual warning signals to homes, schools and businesses in the path of the storm.
The Norman Forecast Office conducts a weekly alert tests on Wednesdays. The weekly test is provided to allow radio owners to verify that their radios are functioning correctly. Some radios display a message, such as "Check Op," after they fail to receive the test. At NWS Norman, as with most NWS offices, the weekly weather radio test are conducted each Wednesday at noon and 7 pm. If there is a risk of severe weather around noon or 7 pm on Wednesday, the test is postponed until the next "good weather" day.
It is not unusual for radios located near the edge of the reliable broadcast area to fail to receive the test occasionally. However, if this occurs repeatedly, you should attempt to improve the radio's reception, either by relocating the radio, adjusting its antenna, or adding an external antenna. In a few cases, this situation may be helped by tuning to a different transmitter.
New technology is now available in NWS Weather Radio that allows you to obtain only the warnings, watches, and other information you want.
This technology, called the Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME), broadcasts the same information we always have had, but adds a code that enables specially built receivers to receive only the information the you want. Thus, you can receive severe weather warnings, watches, and statements for the only county in which you live, if desired, and not information for other counties in the overall NWR broadcast area.
All current and older model NWR receivers will receive all information from the NWS, but only radios with the SAME capability can be programmed to receive only information for specific counties.
Since the SAME codes are fully compatible with the FCC's Emergency Alert System, it is possible in the future that new television sets, pagers, cellular telephones and other electronic devices will be able to receive these SAME coded messages.
These new receivers are available at local electronics stores in your area. If you have purchased a new weather radio with the SAME capability and want to program it for specific counties in your NWR listening area, you will need the proper county codes (FIPS). Also included is a listing of event codes used by the National Weather Service to designate specific weather events.
NWR broadcasts are automated, using a computerized voice. This personal computer-based broadcasting console, known as the Console Replacement System (CRS), automates the process of reading written information for broadcast on NWR.
CRS automatically translates written NWS forecasts, warnings, and observations into synthesized-voice messages and schedule them for broadcast on NWR. This automated system provides faster broadcasts of severe weather watches, warnings, and emergency information over NWR because multiple warnings can be recorded and transmitted at once. This capability dramatically speeds up the broadcast of warnings during multiple severe weather events.
CRS brings many benefits to the NWR network. Automating the process makes it easier for listeners to tune to NWR at particular times for the information they need. Forecast offices are able to broadcast particular forecasts and information, such as river forecasts or climate summaries, in time slots on a more regular schedule. In addition, updated hourly weather conditions always are recorded at the same time every hour, and forecasts and warnings are recorded and transmitted simultaneously. These capabilities allow NWR to be your most dependable source for accurate and up-to-date weather information.