We Know: All About Weather Radio

What is weather radio?
Weather radio, also known as "All Hazards Radio", is a network of public radio stations across the United States, Canada, and U.S. territories that broadcasts weather information for a particular area, natural and environmental disasters, AMBER alerts, and information about terrorist attacks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

By warning the public about impending weather events, people in an affected can take precautionary actions before the weather event occurs. Weather radio can be programmed with alerts and alarms that sound off in a given situation.

Who runs weather radio?
Weather radio is run by the National Weather Service (NWS). National Weather Radio (NWR) is part of the North American Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is monitored by the FCC. NWR activates the Emergency Alert System (EAS).

How does weather radio work?
Weather radio is part of the FCC's Emergency Alert System (EAS). NWR has 900 transmitters covering the United States, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Pacific territories.

A local NWR station issues a weather warning. If a frequency of 1050 Hz is detected, an alarm on the weather radio alerts the listener ten seconds before the message is broadcast. Newer radios have Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) which sounds an alarm if the warning is limited to a particular weather event in a specific broadcast area. After the alarm, a recorded message announces the warning. The tone of voice the message is delivered in indicates the urgency of the warning.

Because the NWR activates the EAS, the NWR and EAS share similar protocols.

Does weather radio broadcast other information?
NWR will broadcast non-weather related information if
  • Public safety is an issue.
  • The information comes from a reliable government source.
  • Time is of the essence.

How do I get weather radio?
Weather radio is broadcast at the 162 MHz VHF frequency range:

  • 162.400
  • 162.425
  • 162.450
  • 162.475
  • 162.500
  • 162.525
  • 162.550

In order to get weather radio broadcasts, a special radio receiver is required. The special receiver is available at most retail electronics stores. Two kinds of receivers are available:

  • Residential grade receivers, averaging $20-$200.
  • Industrial grade receivers, averaging hundreds to thousands of dollars, and issues EAS alerts.

Once all the equipment has been purchased, listeners can log on the NOAA Weather Radio website for a listing of stations by county and state.

Does weather radio broadcast only in the United States?
Canada also has weather radio stations. Weather radio is broadcast in English, Spanish, and French.

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