NOAA Weather Radio
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2009)|
|Type||Weather Radio/Civil Emergency Services|
|Branding||NOAA Weather Radio
NOAA All Hazards Radio
|First air date||1950s in selected cities
|Availability||National, through 1,000 narrowband VHF transmitters,
some commercial radio and television outlets,
Internet availability via other organizations web streaming
|Founded||1954 for Aviation Weather.
1958 for General/Marine Weather
|Slogan||The Voice of the National Weather Service|
|Owner||NOAA/National Weather Service|
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards is a network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from a nearby National Weather Service (NWS) office. It is operated by the NWS, an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within the United States Department of Commerce. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day. It also broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security, natural, environmental, and public safety (see: AMBER Alert) through the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Emergency Alert System.
- 1 Operations
- 2 Alerting
- 3 NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards Programming
- 3.1 Routine Forecast Products
- 3.2 Specialty Forecast Products
- 3.2.1 Short Term Forecast (NOW)
- 3.2.2 Special Weather Statement (SPS)
- 3.2.3 Tabular State Forecast Product (SFT)
- 3.2.4 Record Information Announcement (RER)
- 3.2.5 Surf Zone Forecast (SRF)
- 3.2.6 River Forecast
- 3.2.7 Lake Forecast
- 3.2.8 Coastal Waters Forecast (CWF)
- 3.2.9 Offshore Waters Forecast (OFF)
- 3.2.10 Tropical Weather Summary
- 3.3 Emergency Alert Test Procedure
- 4 Voices
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Known as the Voice of NOAA's National Weather Service, NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) is provided as a public service by the NOAA. As of mid-2009, NWR has more than 1000 transmitters serving 95% of the United States' population, covering all 50 U.S. states, adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and Saipan. NWR requires a special radio receiver or scanner capable of receiving the signal.
The radio service transmits weather warnings and forecasts 24 hours a day. In addition to weather information, NWR works in cooperation with the FCC's Emergency Alert System, providing comprehensive weather and emergency information. In conjunction with federal, state, and local emergency managers and other public officials, NWR also broadcasts warning and post-event information for all types of hazards, including natural (such as earthquakes or avalanches), environmental (such as chemical releases or oil spills), and public safety (such as AMBER alerts or 911 Telephone outages).
Many television stations which have the capability (both commercial and public) will also air their local feed of NWR on their second audio program channel if they aren't carrying a program which features either a Spanish language translation or a Descriptive Video Service track for the visually impaired. Some digital subchannels which carry weather information may also have NWR airing in the background, while regular television stations carry the audio during times they are off-the-air and transmitting a test pattern, in lieu of a reference tone. Most cable systems and some television stations also simulcast a local NOAA Weather Radio station's programming when the Emergency Alert System is activated in the event of a severe weather or civil defense emergency, normally with the issuance of a tornado warning or tornado emergency, especially in tornado-prone areas of the country.
Listening to NOAA weather radio requires a radio which can receive the frequencies 162.400 MHz through 162.550 MHz. In particular, receivers which merely cover the FM, AM, or XM commercial broadcast bands will not suffice. The stations broadcast on seven FM channels reserved to weather radio broadcasts in a special VHF frequency band at 162 MHz. The original frequency was 162.550, with 162.400 being added in 1966, and 162.475 was introduced in 1975. The use of 162.475 for several years was limited only to special cases where required to avoid channel interference, and transmitter power output was restricted to 300 watts. However, station KBA-99 in Honolulu used a frequency of 169.075 for 12 years until being changed to 162.550 in 1975. In recent years, the proliferation of stations meant to make sure everyone has access to warnings has pushed that number to seven, now including the "intermediate" channels of 162.425, 162.450, 162.500, and 162.525 MHz. These channels (often numbered in that order) are receivable on special weather radio receivers, available online and at most retail stores, are also found on most marine VHF radio transceivers, amateur radios, and digital scanners. These "weather radios" are available for prices ranging from US$20 and up. In addition, many consumer electronics, such as two-way radios and CB radios, are now being sold with the ability to receive weather radio broadcasts. With the American digital television transition making most existing portable televisions obsolete and unusable and the current infant and development stage of mobile digital television, along with the need to provide a public service to their viewers and encourage the use of the system, many American television station weather operations cooperate with radio manufacturers and local retail outlets to offer weather radios at discounted pricing to viewers (especially in active tornado areas), where the service is often marketed as an essential warning device on par with a smoke detector for home fires.
There are two different channel numbering systems used by various weather radio manufacturers. The first is the chronological sequence that the radio frequencies were allocated to the service: 1=162.550, 2=162.400, 3=162.475, 4=162.425, 5=162.450, 6=162.500, 7=162.525. The second is in simple increasing radio frequency sequence: 1=162.400, 2=162.425, 3=162.450, 4=162.475, 5=162.500, 6=162.525, 7=162.550. In addition, it may be possible to receive weather broadcasts on more than one of the seven channels at a given location. The NWS suggests that users determine which frequency (as opposed to channel) is intended for their specific location so that they are assured of receiving correct information.
NOAA also provides secondary weather information, usually limited to storm warnings on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, to WWV and WWVH, the United States' national time signal broadcaster.
When an Alerting weather warning is issued for the area which a station covers, certain weather radios are designed to turn on or sound an alarm upon detection of a 1050 Hz tone, issued for ten seconds immediately before the warning message. The specification calls for the NWS transmitter to send the 1050 Hz tone for 10 seconds, and the receiver to react to it within 5 seconds (any extra tone time over and above the reaction time is considered as part of the alerting mechanism). This system simply turns on the audio of every muted receiver within the radio horizon of the transmitter (i.e. any receiver within the transmitter's "footprint"). Additional external devices such as a strobe light which attaches via an accessory port are also available to provide a more immediate and visible warning.
Newer radios can instead detect a digital-over-audio protocol called Specific Area Message Encoding or SAME, which allows the users to program their radios for specific geographical areas of interest and concern, rather than for an entire regional broadcast area. The newer radios also have lit LEDs which indicate whether the message sent out is a warning, advisory or watch in the color order of red for a warning, amber for a watch, and either yellow or green for a statement or advisory, mainly both to give quick reference for those who may not have time to hear the whole alert, and to give those who are hearing impaired some way to be alerted to the oncoming event. The SAME code is broadcast, followed by the 1050 Hz tone. This has the advantage of eliminating the numerous "false alarms" for the 1050 Hz weather alerts that may apply to an area 100 or 150 miles (240 km) distant. The SAME codes are mostly aligned along county lines using the standard US Government FIPS county codes. Most modern SAME equipped radios can be programmed to receive alerts for more than one FIPS code if the user is located along a county boundary.
Once the SAME receivers are programmed they will limit alarms to only certain warnings, and only to the actual section of the broadcast area which the listener is located prior to the broadcast of the 1050 Hz tone. Some receivers allow you to program in several codes so you can include the areas surrounding your location. For example, if an area has frequent storm warnings, and the storms usually come from the east, a receiver can be programmed with the code for its own area, plus the code for the area to the east. (This notification system was later adopted by the Emergency Alert System—the replacement for the earlier Emergency Broadcast System and even earlier CONELRAD now required by the FCC for broadcast stations.)
In September 2008, Walgreens announced that it would utilize the SAME/NOAA system to deliver local weather alerts via their system of LED billboards located outside of the drugstore chain's locations built or remodeled since 2000 to provide an additional avenue of weather information. Many national billboard companies (i.e. CBS Outdoor, Clear Channel Outdoor, Lamar, etc.) also use their color LED billboard networks to display weather warnings to drivers, while state-owned freeway notification boards, which utilize the EAS/NOAA infrastructure for Amber Alert warnings, also display weather warnings.
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards Programming
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Hazardous Weather Outlook for Harrisburg, PA and vicinity. There is also a tropical update in it.
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Routine Forecast Products
The NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards network has a multi-tier concept for forecasting or alerting the public to all types of weather. Actual products vary by the area that the transmitter serves. The main public forecast products typically played during the day's program cycle are:
A typical hourly observation report updated twice hourly at the top of the hour and at eleven minutes past the hour heard over NOAA Weather Radio stations features the following:
- A complete detail of the current sky condition, temperature, dew point, humidity, wind speed/direction and barometric pressure for the main reporting station in that station's city of license.
- Example from KWN-41 Shubert, Nebraska: "At 8 AM in Falls City, it was sunny. The temperature was 60 degrees, the dewpoint 59, and the relative humidity 97%. The wind was west at 6 miles (9.7 km) an hour. The pressure was 30.00 inches (762 mm) and steady."
If the main reporting station's information is unavailable, typically the nearest reporting station to that area is played first instead, in which case that weather station's observations will not be repeated at the end of the observation product. In some locales, in the event the main reporting weather station or a weather station located 50–75 miles of the Weather Forecast Office and main reporting station (or depending on the programming, any other weather station with conditions broadcast) had missing data, or no data available, the following message would thus be played (example from KWO-37 Los Angeles): "The report from Downtown Los Angeles was not available".
- Details on the sky condition, temperature and wind speed/direction (sometimes including information on dew point, humidity and pressure) within 50–75 miles (80–121 km) of the Weather Forecast Office and main reporting station.
- Example from KWN-41: "Across eastern Nebraska, southwest Iowa, and northwest Missouri, skies ranged from sunny to mostly sunny. It was 60 at Beatrice, 59 at Lincoln, 59 at Nebraska City, 57 at Omaha, 59 at Red Oak, and 62 at St. Joseph."
Some cities may round up only sky conditions if temperatures in all reporting stations were within 5 degrees of each other. An example: "skies ranged from sunny to mostly sunny, and temperatures were between 57 and 62 degrees".
- Information on sky condition and temperature (and on certain stations, including wind speed/direction) within 250 miles (400 km) of the WFO area of responsibility.
- Example from KWN-41: "Here are some observations from around the region. Fog was reported with a temperature of 60 at Concordia, Kansas, 57 at Grand Island, and 62 at Manhattan, Kansas. Haze was reported with a temperature of 63 at Topeka, and 61 at Kansas City. It was partly sunny with a temperature of 56 at Des Moines, and 50 at Sioux Falls."
In some areas, a major city would always provide weather conditions; if unavailable, the message "the weather conditions were not available" would precede the city. (Note: Occasionally, the previous hour's observations may last as long as 15 minutes into the next hour, which in most cases when this occurs, the product may not be played at all after 15 minutes and will not play until the information is updated.)
Hazardous Weather Outlook
A Hazardous Weather Outlook is issued daily (usually twice a day at 7AM and Noon) addressing potentially hazardous weather or hydrologic events that may occur in the next seven days. The outlook will include information about potential severe thunderstorms, heavy rain or flooding, winter weather, extremes of heat or cold, etc. It is intended to provide information to those who need considerable lead time to prepare for the event, along with a call for action for trained weather spotters to be prepared to report their local weather conditions and/or damage reports back to the local NWS office. Other outlooks are issued on an event-driven basis, such as the Flood Potential Outlook and Severe Weather Outlook. Occasionally, the NWS WFO may update the Hazardous Weather Outlook while an event is ongoing or if forecast models denote changes from previous forecasts.
Here is a sample from the National Weather Service in North Little Rock, AR:
HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LITTLE ROCK AR 445 AM CST THU FEB 24 2011 ARZ003>007-012>016-021>025-030>034-037>047-052>057-062>069-251045- ARKANSAS-BAXTER-BOONE-BRADLEY-CALHOUN-CLARK-CLEBURNE-CLEVELAND- CONWAY-DALLAS-DESHA-DREW-FAULKNER-FULTON-GARLAND-GRANT-HOT SPRING- INDEPENDENCE-IZARD-JACKSON-JEFFERSON-JOHNSON-LINCOLN-LOGAN-LONOKE- MARION-MONROE-MONTGOMERY-NEWTON-OUACHITA-PERRY-PIKE-POLK-POPE- PRAIRIE-PULASKI-SALINE-SCOTT-SEARCY-SHARP-STONE-VAN BUREN-WHITE- WOODRUFF-YELL- 445 AM CST THU FEB 24 2011 THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR A LARGE PART OF ARKANSAS. .DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS LIKELY ACROSS MUCH OF ARKANSAS TODAY. A STORM SYSTEM WILL APPROACH ARKANSAS FROM THE WEST...BRINGING NUMEROUS SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS TO THE STATE AS IT MOVES THROUGH. SEVERE WEATHER WILL BE MOST LIKELY ACROSS THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN PARTS OF THE STATE...ROUGHLY SOUTH AND EAST OF LOCATIONS SUCH AS MENA...MORRILTON AND NEWPORT. TEMPERATURES WILL WARM WELL INTO THE 60S AND 70S IN THESE AREAS...CREATING AN UNSTABLE AIR MASS. FARTHER NORTH CLOUDS AND MORE WIDESPREAD PRECIPITATION WILL LIMIT WARMING AND INSTABILITY. WHILE CHANCES OF SEVERE STORMS WILL BE LESS IN THE NORTH...THUNDERSTORMS WILL STILL BE PRESENT THERE. WINDS FROM JUST ABOVE THE SURFACE THROUGH THE MID LEVELS OF THE ATMOSPHERE WILL BE QUITE STRONG WITH THIS SYSTEM. THERE IS ENOUGH CHANGE IN BOTH WIND SPEED...AND WIND DIRECTION WITH HEIGHT TO SUPPORT MULTIPLE TYPES OF SEVERE WEATHER TODAY. DAMAGING WINDS...TORNADOES AND LARGE HAIL WILL ALL BE POSSIBLE. IN ADDITION TO THE SEVERE STORMS...HEAVY RAINS WILL ALSO BE POSSIBLE. AREAS IN NORTH CENTRAL AND NORTHEAST ARKANSAS RECEIVED UPWARDS OF TWO INCHES OF RAIN OVERNIGHT. MORE HEAVY RAIN WILL BE POSSIBLE TODAY AS STORMS MOVE THROUGH THE AREA...WITH THE GREATEST AMOUNTS EXPECTED IN THE NORTH. WITH REGARD TO TIMING...STORMS SHOULD MOVE FROM TEXAS AND OKLAHOMA INTO WESTERN ARKANSAS BETWEEN NOON AND 3 PM THIS AFTERNOON. STORMS WILL MOVE TOWARD CENTRAL ARKANSAS BETWEEN 3 PM AND 6 PM...MAKING IT INTO THE EAST BETWEEN 6 PM AND 9 PM. .DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...FRIDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY FRIDAY THROUGH SUNDAY MORNING WILL BE CALM AS HIGH PRESSURE DOMINATES THE WEATHER IN ARKANSAS. HOWEVER...LATE SUNDAY WILL BRING ANOTHER ROUND OF SEVERE WEATHER AS ANOTHER STRONG SYSTEM APPROACHES FROM THE SOUTHWEST. .SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT... SPOTTER ACTIVATION MAY BE NECESSARY THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING ACROSS MUCH OF THE AREA. && VISIT NWS LITTLE ROCK ON THE WEB. GO TO HTTP://WEATHER.GOV AND CLICK ON CENTRAL ARKANSAS. $$
Zone Forecast Product (ZFP)
Text product issued by all WFOs to explicitly state expected weather conditions within each zone in their area of forecast responsibility through day seven. The product describes the expected sky condition (along with the chance of precipitation and precipitation type if liquid and/or frozen precipitation is forecast), the temperature range for the county zone (typically written out as for example: "Lows in the lower 50s", though sometimes if temperatures in the county zone are forecast to be around a specific temperature it may be written as "Low around 55") and the forecast winds; the wind forecast only appears within the first 72 hours of the seven-day period in the product. For many federal holidays such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, those days are denoted and sounded out within the forecast itself instead of the day of the week. If forecasted high and/or low temperatures are predicted to be within less than a 10 degree range and/or weather conditions are forecast to have little change over some or all of the final 5 days of the forecast period, the conditions may be rounded up, for example: "Tuesday through Friday: Partly cloudy, lows in the lower 70s and highs in the upper 90s".
Regional Weather Synopsis
Also known as the Regional Weather Summary, this product gives a brief recap of weather events from yesterday or today within the region, then gives listeners a glimpse on what is expected from the current time to the next few days. This product is shown and updated twice daily: first in the late morning hours and again in the late evening hours.
NORTH TEXAS WEATHER SUMMARY NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORT WORTH TX 1050 AM CDT FRI APR 02 2010 SKIES WERE OVERCAST ACROSS NORTH TEXAS EARLY THIS MORNING AS A COLD FRONT BOUNDARY BEGAN TO APPROACH THE REGION FROM THE WEST. A LINE OF STORMS DEVELOPED ALONG THIS BOUNDARY THROUGHOUT THE MORNING. TEMPERATURES JUST BEFORE DAYBREAK WERE IN THE UPPER 60S AHEAD OF THE FRONT AND THE UPPER 50S BEHIND THE FRONT. WINDS WERE GENERLLY FROM THE SOUTH AT 10 TO 20 MPH SWITCHING TO THE WEST BEHIND THE FRONT. BY LATE MORNING...THE LINE OF STORMS ARE LOCATED ALONG A SHERMAN... TO FORT WORTH...TO HAMILTON LINE. THE MAIN THREAT EXPECTED FROM THESE STORMS IS LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WINDS. AFTERNOON HIGHS ARE EXPECTED TO BE IN THE UPPER 70S THROUGHOUT NORTH TEXAS. RAIN CHANCES WILL DECREASE EASTWARD AS THE BOUNDARY EXITS THE REGION THIS EVENING. SKIES ARE EXPECTED TO CLEAR OVERNIGHT WITH LOW TEMPERATURES IN THE UPPER 40S ACROSS MUCH OF THE AREA. THE WEEKEND WILL BE PLEASANT AND WARM WITH MOSTLY SUNNY SKIES AND TEMPERATURES NEAR 80.
Daily Climate Summary
This is a general information product comprising three separate products:
- Area Climate Summary - Generally made available from 5-9 a.m. and mainly available in stations in significant cities in the WFO area of responsibility. In some areas, this product is played on 15 minute intervals, while most areas show this product with each product cycle. The product includes information on the previous day's recorded minimum and maximum temperatures and the previous and present day's 30-year average minimum and maximum temperatures and record minimum and maximum temperatures, the previous day's recorded precipitation and monthly and annual total precipitation in comparison to the 30-year average monthly and annual precipitation as well as information on heating and/or cooling degree days. In some areas, the sunrise and sunset times for the next two days are displayed in this product, whereas in other areas, the sunrise and sunset times are on a separate product that is aired twice daily in the early-mid morning and early evening hours.
- Regional Climate Summary - Generally made available from the mid-morning hours to early afternoon featuring actual high and low temperature and precipitation information for regional sections of the WFO displaying information for the 24 hour period starting at 7 a.m. the previous day.
- Afternoon Climate Summary - Generally made available from 4-10 p.m. and updated throughout the period. The product includes information on the day's recorded minimum and maximum temperatures and recorded precipitation. Some WFOs station groups also feature in this product: the day's 30-year average minimum and maximum temperatures, record minimum and maximum temperatures and monthly and annual total precipitation in comparison to the 30-year average monthly and annual precipitation. This product is subject to updates during the period it is carried if the actual high or low temperature changes from the previously recorded high or low or if the main reporting station reports or continues to report measured precipitation.
Specialty Forecast Products
The following are forecast products that are not available in all NOAA Weather Radio stations or are only played as conditions warrant (in most WFO programming forecast products of any kind, with the exception of short term forecasts, will be preempted during the occurrence of severe weather):
Short Term Forecast (NOW)
Sometimes referred to by some stations as a "Regional Weather Discussion" or the "NOW-Cast" depending on the region, and as a "Local Update" when used by The Weather Channel during their local forecasts on cable systems using the WeatherStar 4000 system in the mid-late 1990s, this is a localized, event-driven product used to provide the public with detailed weather information during significant and/or fast-changing hydrometeorological conditions during the next six hours. This product on-air will often mention the position of precipitation as detected by NEXRAD radar. In most areas, this is the only forecast product that is permitted to air both during active severe weather warnings affecting the listening area and during routine forecast program cycles.
Special Weather Statement (SPS)
This regional event-driven product is used to provide the public with details of the upcoming significant weather event, such as a major winter storm, a heat wave, or potential flooding.
Here's an example SPS product from the NWS office in San Angelo, Texas:
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN ANGELO TX 532 AM CDT MON SEP 6 2010 TXZ049-054-064>066-071>073-076>078-098-099-113-114-127-128-139- 140-154-155-168>170-061715- FISHER-NOLAN-STERLING-COKE-RUNNELS-IRION-TOM GREEN-CONCHO- CROCKETT-SCHLEICHER-SUTTON-HASKELL-THROCKMORTON-JONES-SHACKELFORD- TAYLOR-CALLAHAN-COLEMAN-BROWN-MCCULLOCH-SAN SABA-MENARD-KIMBLE- MASON- INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...ROTAN...ROBY...SWEETWATER... STERLING CITY...ROBERT LEE...BRONTE...BALLINGER...WINTERS... MERTZON...SAN ANGELO...EDEN...OZONA...ELDORADO...SONORA... HASKELL...THROCKMORTON...WOODSON...STAMFORD...ANSON...HAMLIN... ALBANY...ABILENE...CLYDE...BAIRD...CROSS PLAINS...COLEMAN... BROWNWOOD...BRADY...SAN SABA...MENARD...JUNCTION...MASON 532 AM CDT MON SEP 6 2010 ...TROPICAL STORM HERMINE FORMS IN THE WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO AT 4 AM CDT ON THIS LABOR DAY MORNING... THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL STORM HERMINE. THE HURRICANE CENTER FORECAST`S TROPICAL STORM HERMINE TO MAKE LANDFALL ALONG THE NORTHEAST MEXICAN COASTLINE SHORTLY AFTER MIDNIGHT TONIGHT. HERMINE IS FORECAST TO TRACK NORTHWEST TOWARDS WEST CENTRAL TEXAS AS A TROPICAL DEPRESSION. IT SHOULD IMPACT THE AREA TUESDAY NIGHT...WEDNESDAY AND WEDNESDAY NIGHT. THE OUTER RAIN BANDS OF THIS DEPRESSION COULD IMPACT THE NORTHWEST HILL COUNTRY AS EARLY AS TUESDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING. REMEMBER THAT ISOLATED TORNADOES CAN FORM IN THE OUTER BANDS OF THESE SYSTEMS WITH LITTLE OR NO WARNING. TROPICAL DEPRESSIONS ARE ALSO KNOWN FOR PRODUCING CONCENTRATED FLOODING RAINFALL AT NIGHT. THEREFORE...IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO MONITOR THE TRACK OF HERMINE AS IT MOVES INLAND OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS SINCE THERE STILL IS SOME UNCERTAINTY WITH THE FUTURE TRACK AND SPEED OF HERMINE. BASED ON THE LATEST FORECAST TRACK...WIDESPREAD 2 TO 4 INCHES WITH ISOLATED 4 TO 8 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE ACROSS WEST CENTRAL TEXAS TUESDAY NIGHT INTO WEDNESDAY NIGHT.
Tabular State Forecast Product (SFT)
This is a general seven-day public forecast of hydrometeorological conditions for the entire WFO area of responsibility. This forecast is not part of the regular program cycle, and will only be played on all stations within the WFOs area of responsibility in the event the CRS is down due to technical difficulties or system maintenance.
Record Information Announcement (RER)
This is a product which announces information on tied or newly set records for coldest/warmest maximum and/or minimum temperature and maximum precipitation. This forecast product is routinely updated when such events occur.
Surf Zone Forecast (SRF)
This is a text forecast for local beaches issued by coastal WFOs, including coastal hazard information such as that pertaining to rip currents. These products are issued year-round at the Los Angeles/Oxnard, San Diego, and New York City offices, and seasonally at most other coastal offices.
Daily river forecasts are issued by the 13 River Forecast Centers (RFC) using hydrologic models based on rainfall, soil characteristics, precipitation forecasts, and several other variables. Some RFCs, especially those in mountainous regions, also provide seasonal snow pack and peak flow forecasts.
- River and Small Stream Observations - this product is played in areas in and outside of the 13 River Forecast Centers and is only played following a significant hydrological event featuring information on present flood stage, crest and forecast flood stage.
This is a text product issued by most WFOs in the Great Lakes region to explicitly state expected weather conditions within their marine forecast area of responsibility through day 5. Also addresses expect wave heights and small-craft advisories.
Coastal Waters Forecast (CWF)
This is a text product issued by all coastal WFOs to explicitly state expected weather conditions within their marine forecast area of responsibility through day 5. Also addresses expect wave heights.
Offshore Waters Forecast (OFF)
This is a text product that provides forecast and warning information to mariners who travel on the oceanic waters adjacent to the U.S. coastal waters through day 5. Issued by the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC).
Tropical Weather Summary
This event-driven product summarizes the latest information on one or multiple active tropical cyclones and is updated every 3 hours. Weather radio stations that are in States near the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean would be given the information of activity in the Atlantic Basin, where upon stations in the West Coast would be given the information of activity in the Pacific Ocean respectively. Depending on station and WFO, listeners can hear this product at the top and bottom of every hour.
Emergency Alert Test Procedure
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NOAA Weather Radio has a special day and time to test the Emergency Alert System. The National Weather Service conducts a weekly warning/watch tone alert test every Wednesday between 10:00 am and Noon. Some NWS Offices conduct a second test in the evening hours, usually at 7:00 pm. The NWS in Birmingham conducts a second test on Saturday morning between 10:00 am and Noon. If there is a threat of severe weather that day in the NOAA Weather Radio listening area, the test will be postponed until the next available good weather day (meaning the next scheduled test day, not the next day with good weather). The weekly test will replace regular NOAA Weather Radio programming. The SAME header is sent, followed by the 1050 Hz tone, the test message, and the SAME end of message (EOM) burst. The text of the test message used by most NWS offices reads, with variations:
"This is the National Weather Service office in (city). The preceding signal was a test of the warning alarm system of National Weather Service radio station (call sign of station) in (location). During potential or actual dangerous weather situations, specially built receivers are automatically activated by this signal to warn of the impending hazard. Tests of this signal and receivers' performance are usually conducted by this Weather Service office on Wednesdays at (time[s]). When there is a threat of severe weather, or existing severe weather is in the area on Wednesday, the test will be postponed until the next available good-weather day. (Alt. the test will be cancelled, and a short message stating the reason for the cancellation will be broadcast.) Reception of this broadcast, and especially the warning alarm signal, will vary at any given location. The variability, normally more noticeable at greater distances from the transmitter, will occur even though you are using a good quality receiver in perfect working order. To provide the most consistent warning service possible, the warning alarm will be activated only for selected watches and warnings affecting the following counties: (list of counties. N.B. When more than one state is involved, the name of the state comes before the list of counties; for example, on KID-77 in Kansas City, it runs: "in Missouri: Cass, Clay, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Platte, and Ray; and in Kansas: Johnson, Leavenworth, Linn, Miami, Wyandotte, and Douglas.") This concludes the test of the warning alarm system of NOAA Weather Radio (call sign). We now return to normal programming."
Before 1997, the bulk of NWR programming was via human voice, with a meteorologist recording each message and setting up a looping broadcast cycle. As the NWS added more transmitters to provide better radio coverage, WFO staff had difficulty keeping broadcast cycles updated in a timely fashion, especially during large severe weather outbreaks. The NWS then installed a Console Replacement System (CRS) in every forecast office, which introduced a synthesized voice to read text announcements. Because of the large number of geographic terms routinely used in NWR broadcasts, concatenative synthesis was not suitable. Instead, an unlimited-vocabulary phonetic synthesizer was employed. This male voice was named "NOAA's Perfect Paul" or simply "Paul", although it quickly acquired several nicknames for its mechanically awkward pronunciation and intonation, including "Imperfect Paul", "Igor", "Sven", "Arnold", and Mr. Roboto. Other National Weather Service offices, including Seattle, Oxnard, Fort Worth, and Las Vegas, used a low-tone version of Paul, known as "Harry".
In 2002, the National Weather Service contracted with Siemens Information and Communication and SpeechWorks to introduce improved, more natural voices . The Voice Improvement Plan (VIP) was implemented, involving a separate computer processor linked into CRS that fed digitized sound files to the broadcast suite. The improvements involved one male voice ("Craig"), and one female voice ("Donna"). Additional upgrades in 2003 produced a greatly improved male voice nicknamed "Tom", which can change intonation based on the urgency of a product; "Donna" was altered as well. Due to the superior quality of the "Tom" voice, most NWS offices use it for the majority of broadcast products. Occasionally, "Donna" can be heard voicing a few products, and the original "Paul" or "Harry" voice usually announces the current local time, some river warnings and in some WFO's, the station identity as required by the FCC (example: "Station KEC55, serving the Dallas/Fort Worth listening area"). Full statements will occasionally be heard in the "Paul" voice if the VIP processor gets overloaded with products or a failure occurs.
A few WFOs have had some fun with their synthesized voices by staging contests whereby their listeners can choose a name for the voices. The WFO in Wichita, KS, for example, gave the "Paul" voice the name "Chance Storm"; when the VIP voices came along, they chose the "Donna" voice to broadcast routine products and gave her the name "Misty Dawn." Incidentally, they have never had such a contest for "Craig" or "Tom", whom they use for urgent products.
Human voices are still heard on occasion, but sparingly, mainly during station identification, public forecasts, National Marine Fisheries Service messages, public information statements, public service announcements, required weekly tests, and severe weather events. The capability exists for a meteorologist to broadcast live on any transmitter if computer problems occur or added emphasis is desired, or to notify listeners who are concerned about a silent station on another frequency whether that station is dark due to technical errors, prolonged power outage, or a weather event has forced it off the air.
Three forecast offices broadcast weather entirely in Spanish on a separate station from English broadcasts: San Diego (Coachella/Riverside), El Paso, and Miami (Hialeah, since 2012) use a male Spanish synthesized voice, "Javier", for all broadcasts. The Albuquerque weather forecasting office uses "Javier" for repeating weather alerts in Spanish after first going out in English. San Juan broadcasts all information, including forecasts, in the same manner.
- Weather radio
- Emergency Alert System
- Severe weather terminology
- HEARO Local Alert Receiver
- NOAA Weather Radio - Station listings
- National Weather Service Little Rock, Arkansas (2011-04-21). "Most of Arkansas Hazardous Weather Outlook". Retrieved 2011-04-21.
- "NOAA Weather Radio Test Schedule". National Weather Service.
- "YouTube user elevatorsonly recording a RWT from the Taunton, MA WFO.".
- "YouTube user SpokaneEAS recording the main RWT from NWS Spokane".
- A page on the NWS Web site titled Voices Used on NOAA Weather Radio documents the VIP.
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