Tuesday, April 26, 2011

NOAA Weather Radios

LD'ers would be well -served to be aware of potentially life-threatening weather situations that may be approaching them. The National Weather Service (NWS) has deployed a nation-wide system of National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather broadcast stations that broadcast weather information continuously 24/7. An enhanced feature available on many weather radios, Specific Area Message Encoding ( S.A.M.E.), allows you to program in the counties through which you'll be traveling; any alerts will then sound for the specific areas you've programmed, and not for the whole region.

There are many different brands of radios available:

Midland's WR-100C and WR-120B models seem to be as good as any:

http://tinyurl.com/3py89ee

http://tinyurl.com/4y5yb2z

The WR-100 radios can operate directly from 12 V DC power. That's a major advantage, because you want this radio on standby 24 hours a day. I'm not sure about the WR-120--the owner's manual and spec sheet don't say what voltage its adapter is. Chances are it's 12 V DC also, but no guarantees. Here's the manual:

http://www.midlandradio.com/Resource_/OwnerManual/200/wr120%20Manual.pdf

Another vendor which offers S.A.M.E.-enabled weather radios, hand-held or "sit on a surface":

http://www.ambientweather.com/radiosnoaa.html

Another approach to staying aware of impending doom is the Droid, which has an app for the Weather Bug and you can be notified either by sound or flashing light if there is a weather alert in your area, or anywhere you have set up to search. Probably other smart phones have that option too. Of course if you go out of cell service, that app won't do any good.

Some tips from an NWS meteorologist:

1. You should be able to set your radio to an audible alarm or just a visual alarm. You should also be able to set the radio to alarm on ANY warning within the radio reception area or you can set it to alarm for the specific county you are in. You NEED to know the county you are in set this, normally to a 4 digit code, which you need to retrieve from a list available on-line. That documentation maybe with your new radio as well.

2. If you are driving down the road, setting the radio to every county is not plausible. Just set it to the county you overnight in IF severe weather is forecast. Severe weather forecasting is getting to be fairly accurate as far as let you know the general threat area and timing. That
information is normally available in the standard forecast from weather.gov.

3. At weather.gov, just select your state, then you can zoom in to your location for the specific 7-day forecast. Read the hazardous weather statements for more info on the specific threat. Those are embolded in red at the top of the worded forecasts.

4. The chances of actually getting hit by a tornado are very slim. However, associated destructive winds and hail are more probable.

5. There is LOTS of information available on-line to self-train yourself on what to look for just by visual observation. Just Google search. I would recommend sticking to NWS sources, since nearly ALL public weather data originates from the NWS. Not ALL weather forecasts originate from the NWS, just the data feeds.

Contributors: Joan Taylor, Chuck Myers, Andy Baird, Denise Morrison

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