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Do you have a weather radio? Have you ever heard of a weather radio? Do you know what a weather radio is? How many times am I going to say weather radio in this diary? I'm going to say weather radio until I drive home the point that you need a weather radio.

Therefore weather radio, too, also. You betcha. Keep reading, it gets more coherent, I promise.

The following is a shameless copy/paste from my diary last week explaining the differences between watches, warnings, and advisories.

Weather Radios

Here's a rant I had a few days ago on weather radios. I have a weather radio, but it's in North Carolina instead of in my dorm in Alabama. I wish I had it with me last week, to be honest. I learned my lesson. We had an F2 tornado a few miles down the road from our university while I was asleep, and I had no idea it was happening. We have tornado sirens on campus, but I didn't hear them. My roommate didn't wake me up to tell me there was a tornado coming. The campus alert system failed to call our telephones until 20 minutes after the warning expired. I had no way of knowing there was a tornado, all because I didn't have my weather radio with me.

Get one. Seriously. Don't get the kind you have to turn on and move the antenna around and wait for the beep before you can leave a message. Get the kind that you have to program your county's code into and have it automatically go off when a warning is issued.

I have this one at home, and it's saved my ass quite a few times. I suggest you get the Midland WR-100C. It's 30 bucks from Amazon and worth every penny.

Each county/parish in the United States has a "SAME Code," a unique 6-digit code that one can program into the weather radio. The NWS embeds these codes into warnings and watches when they're issued, and the signal is picked up by your radio. When you program your county's code into the receiver, anytime a warning (tornado, severe t-storm, winter storm, or even child abduction emergencies, hazmat situations, evacuation orders, etc.) is issued for your county, it turns on with a rather loud tone and automatically tunes to the radio station reading the warning.

If you have one and need help setting it up, email me HERE and I'll be glad to walk you through it. You need to get one, it's really worth it. It's saved my ass a few times, and you know that's saying something because I'm glued to the radar 24/7. Things can slip by that should never do so, and one of these radios can help protect you from that happening.

Here's one of the radios in action (I took this video, actually):

For those of you with the ability to view YouTube videos, here's a 7 minute overview I created about weather radios. Not all of them are the same model, but they all have the same basic functions.


For those of you without the ability to view YouTube videos, or if you can't stand listening to me talk for 7 minutes, here's a text summary of the video and the basic functions of a weather radio.


First Alert Weather Radio

This is my First Alert Weather Radio. Modern weather radios are made mostly by Midland, but other companies (like First Alert) do make them. Although the models and brands are different, most SAME enabled weather radios have the same basic functions.

  1. SAME Encoding -- Each county/parish/borough in the US has its own 6-digit code assigned to it by the government. The National Weather Service inserts these codes into the watches/warnings they send out, and these codes are picked up by the radio and the alert is sounded.
  2. Alert Tones -- This specific model of weather radio has two alert tones, and most weather radios have these abilities. On the weather radio channels, the 'emergency alert system' sound goes off for 10 seconds, then the watch/warning is read by a computerized voice. The weather radio has a "voice" alarm or a "siren" alarm. The voice alarm sounds the siren for 10 seconds, then switches to the weather band and reads the warning. The siren alarm sounds a siren for about 2 minutes, or until you shut it off. It's preferable that you keep it on voice, so you know what's going on.
  3. Alert Type -- With the more expensive Midland radios, and with the First Alert kind I have, you are able to program what kind of alerts for which you want the radio go off. For instance, if you don't live in a flood-prone area, you don't really need flood warnings. You are able to disable flood warnings (and other non-crucial alerts) on these types of weather radios, to reduce the annoying factor of the radio and to increase the severity of hearing the thing go off. There are certain alerts, though, that you can't disable (including tornado warnings, hurricane warnings, nuclear power plant emergencies, and so on).
  4. Weather Band -- All weather radios, modern or not, have the ability to pick up all 7 weather radio frequencies in the United States. Certain counties are covered under certain frequencies, and it's crucial to tune your weather radio to the appropriate weather radio frequency to receive your warnings and watches.

Links:
-Information on SAME encoding
-Weather radio frequencies
-Coverage maps

Where to buy weather radios:
-Amazon
-Radioshack
-Midland
-First Alert
-Walgreens

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for everyone, speak up or forever hold your peas.

Originally posted to State of the Skies on Thu Mar 24, 2011 at 04:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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