By nature and by design, NOAA Weather Radio coverage is
limited to an area within 40 miles of the transmitter. The
quality of what is heard is dictated by the distance from the
transmitter, local terrain, and the quality and location of
the receiver. In general, those using a high quality receiver
on flat terrain or at sea can expect reliable reception far
beyond 40 miles. Those with standard receivers, surrounded by
large buildings in cities and those in mountain valleys may
experience little or no reception at considerably less than 40
miles. If possible, a receiver should be tested in the
location where it will be used prior to purchase.
NOAA Weather Radio is directly available to approximately 70
to 80 percent of the U.S. population. The National Weather
Service is currently engaged in a program to increase coverage
to 95 percent of the population.
If you have a question regarding technical aspects of NOAA
Weather Radio (such as transmitter locations and reception and
transmitter characteristics of a station) or are interested in
becoming a partner with the National Weather Service in
identifying or providing local funding and facilities for the
installation of a Weather Radio transmitter, please contact
your nearest National Weather Service Office or the National
Weather Service, Dissemination Systems Section (Attn:
W/OSO153), 1325 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
If you have a question about the weather information broadcast
over NOAA Weather Radio, please contact the local National
Weather Service office responsible for programming the
station, or the National Weather Service, Office of
Meteorology, Customer Service (Attention: W/OMII), 1325
East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or click in here for more information.
In the most sophisticated alerting system, NOAA Weather Radio
Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME), digital coding is
employed to activate only those special receivers programmed
for specific emergency conditions in a specific area,
typically a county. SAME can activate specially equipped radio
and cable television receivers and provide a short text
message that identifies the location and type of emergency.
SAME will be the primary activator for the new Emergency Alert
System planned by the Federal Communications Commission.
Under a January 1975 White House policy statement, NOAA
Weather Radio was designated the sole Government-operated
radio system to provide direct warnings into private homes for
both natural disasters and nuclear attack. This concept is
being expanded to include warnings for all hazardous
conditions that pose a threat to life and safety, both at a
local and national level.
NOAA Weather Radio currently broadcasts from over 425 FM
transmitters in fifty states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin
Islands, Guam and Saipan on seven frequencies in the VHF band,
ranging from 162.400 to 162.550 megahertz (MHz). These
frequencies are outside the normal AM or FM broadcast bands.
Special radios that receive only NOAA Weather Radio, both with
and without special alerting features, are available from
several manufacturers. In addition, other manufacturers are
including NOAA Weather Radio as a special feature on an
increasing variety of receivers. NOAA Weather Radio capability
is currently available on some automobile, aircraft, marine,
citizens band, and standardAM/FM radios as well as
communications receivers, transceivers, scanners, and cable
NOAA Weather Radio is a service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. As the "Voice
of the National Weather Service," it provides continuous broadcasts of
the latest weather information from local National Weather Service
offices. Weather messages are repeated every 4 to 6 minutes and are
routinely updated every I to 6 hours or more frequently in rapidly
changing local weather or if a nearby hazardous environmental condition
exists. Most stations operate 24 hours daily.
The regular broadcasts are specifically tailored to weather information
needs of the people within the service area of the transmitter. For
example, in addition to general weather information, stations in coastal
areas provide information of interest to mariners. Other specialized
information, such as hydrological forecasts and climatological data may
During severe weather, National Weather Service forecasters can interrupt
the routine weather broadcasts and insert special warning messages
concerning imminent threats to life and property. The forecaster can also
add special signals to warnings that trigger "alerting" features of
specially equipped receivers. In the simplest case, this signal activates
audible or visual alarms, indicating that an emergency condition exists
within the broadcast areas of the station being monitored, and alerts the
listener to turn up the volume and stay tuned for more information. More
sophisticated receivers are automatically turned on and set to an audible
volume when an alert is received.