NOAA Weather Radio

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NOAA Weather Radio
Type Weather radio/civil emergency services
Branding NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards
Country  United States
Availability National (through radio transmitters,
some commercial radio and television outlets,
and Internet availability via streaming audio from other organizations)
Founded 1954 (for aviation weather)
1958 (for general/marine weather)
by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Slogan "The Voice of the National Weather Service"
Radio stations 1,032 narrowband VHF-FM transmitters
Owner NOAA/National Weather Service
Launch date
1950s (in selected cities)
1970s (nationwide)
Official website
www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr

NOAA Weather Radio (NWR; also known as NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards) is a network of radio stations in the United States that broadcast continuous weather information directly from a nearby Weather Forecast Office of the service's operator, National Weather Service (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, weather observations 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 (such as an AMBER Alert) through the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Emergency Alert System.

Operations[edit]

Example NOAA weather radio coverage for Eastern Michigan.

Known as "The Voice of NOAA's National Weather Service", NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) is provided as a public service by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. By the end of 2014, NWR had about 1025 transmitters[1] serving 95% of the United States' population, covering all 50 U.S. states, adjacent coastal waters, and the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and Saipan.

Cartoon character Mark Trail has been used by the National Weather Service to promote NOAA Weather Radio since 1997.

The radio service continuously transmits weather and marine forecasts (where applicable) and other related information. In addition, NWR works in cooperation with the FCC's Emergency Alert System (EAS), providing comprehensive severe weather alerts and civil emergency information. In conjunction with federal, state and local emergency managers and other public officials, NWR can broadcast alerts and post-event information for all types of hazards, including natural (such as earthquakes or avalanches), man-made (such as chemical releases or oil spills), technological (such as nuclear power plant emergencies) and public safety (such as "AMBER alerts" or 9-1-1 telephone outages).

Many television stations which have the capability (both commercial and public) may simulcast a local NWR station's audio content on their second audio program channel if they are not 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 a local NWR audio feed airing in the background, while conventional television stations carry the audio during off-air periods while transmitting a test pattern, in lieu of a reference tone. Many cable television systems and some commercial television and radio stations will, during EAS activation, rebroadcast the audio of a warning message first heard on their local NWR station, to alert viewers of a severe weather event or civil emergency, usually with the issuance of a tornado warning or tornado emergency, especially in tornado-prone areas of the country.

Listening to a NOAA Weather Radio station requires a special radio receiver or scanner capable of receiving at least one of seven specific channels within the frequency range of 162.4 MHz through 162.55 MHz, collectively known as "weather band". For example, a receiver that only tunes in standard FM or AM broadcast stations will not suffice. The seven FM channels, reserved by the U.S. Government for NWR broadcasts, are located within the larger "public service band", a VHF frequency band generally used by licensed government and public agencies and authorities for non-commercial, official two-way radio communications. The original frequency was 162.550 MHz, with 162.400 MHz added in 1970; the 162.475 MHz frequency was introduced for NWR transmission 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). Honolulu NWR station KBA99 transmitted on the 169.075 MHz frequency for twelve years until it was moved to 162.550 in 1975.

Many (if not most) basic weather band receivers manufactured and sold from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s were configured to only receive the three "main" weather channels. However, for much of that period, four additional "intermediate" channels (162.425, 162.450, 162.500 and 162.525 MHz) existed to accommodate anticipated expansion but went mostly unused.[2] Over the years, a proliferation of stations meant to ensure near-complete geographical coverage and "weather-readiness" has pushed that number solidly from three to seven. According to NOAA, by April 1985, the NWS operated "about 392 stations" with "approximately 90 percent of the nation's population...within listening range";[3] as of January 2015, the figure was "1025 stations" with a goal to "increase coverage to at least 95 percent".[4]

All NWR channels are available on stand-alone "weather radio" receivers that are currently sold online and in retail stores (available for prices ranging from US$20 and up), as well as on most marine VHF radio transceivers, amateur radios and digital scanners. In addition, more mainstream consumer electronics, such as clock radios, portable multi-band receivers and two-way radios (such as FRS, GMRS and CB radio), now feature the ability to also receive NWR channels. Many of the aforementioned devices also incorporate alerting capabilities. With the American digital television transition making most existing portable televisions obsolete and no longer usable 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 NWR 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 highly tornado-prone areas), where they are often marketed as an essential safety device on par with a smoke alarm 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. As with conventional broadcast television and radio signals, it may be possible to receive more than one of the seven weather channels at a given location, dependent on factors such as the location, transmitter power, range and designated coverage area of each station. 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 and timely information.

NOAA also provides secondary weather information, usually limited to marine storm warnings for sea vessels navigating the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, to HF band "time stations" WWV and WWVH - these shortwave radio stations continuously broadcast time signals and disseminate the "official" U.S. Government time, and are operated by Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Alerting[edit]

Audio from a NOAA Weather Radio broadcast of a tornado warning issued for Greensburg, Kansas on May 4, 2007. Weather Radio stations will carry alerts when dangerous weather threatens a location within their listening area.

Whenever a weather or civil emergency alert is issued for any part of a NWR station's coverage area, many radios with an "alert feature" will sound an alarm – and/or turn on – upon detection of a About this sound 1050 Hz attention tone  that sounds just before the voice portion of an alert message. The specification calls for the NWS transmitter to sound the alert tone for ten seconds and for the receiver to react to it within five seconds. This system simply triggers the alarm – and/or turns on the radio – of every muted receiver within reception range of that NWR station (in other words, any receiver located anywhere within the transmitter's broadcast area). Generally, receivers with this functionality are either older or basic models.

Many newer or more sophisticated alerting receivers can detect, decode and react to a packet radio protocol called Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME), which additionally allows users to program their radios to receive alerts only for specific geographical areas of interest and concern, rather than for an entire regional broadcast area. These advanced "SAME" and/or "Public Alert-certified" models may also have colored LED status lights which visually indicate the level of the alert as a "warning", "watch" or "advisory"/"statement" (coded as red for warnings, orange or yellow for watches, and either amber or green for advisories and statements) - they serve not only as a quick reference and attention-getting feature, but also give those who are hearing-impaired an alternate means of being alerted to the oncoming event.

Some alerting receivers come equipped with an accessory port to accommodate an external alerting device (such as a strobe light, pillow shaker/vibrator or loud siren) that can supplement the built-in alarm tones and provide a more immediate and visible warning, particularly to those who are deaf or hearing-impaired.

Most SAME receivers can also be programmed to alert for specific event types in addition to specific locations within the broadcast area. Many SAME-equipped radios allow users to store more than one FIPS code to allow for reception of alerts for multiple surrounding counties, parishes or boroughs - this feature can be useful for listeners located along or near jurisdiction lines, particularly if an area has frequent storm warnings - for example, if storms usually approach from the west, a receiver can be programmed with the code for the specific area where the user is located as well as the code for the area to the west.

When an alert is transmitted, the About this sound SAME header/data signal  is broadcast first (heard as three, repetitive audio "bursts"), followed by the 1050 Hz attention tone, then the voice message, then the end-of-message (EOM) data signal (repeated quickly three times).[5] This encoding/decoding technology has the advantage of "filtering out" and eliminating the numerous "false alarms" triggered by the 1050 Hz tone itself in locations outside of the intended warning area. Broadcast areas are generally divided into SAME locations by county (or marine zone, where applicable) using the standard U.S. Government FIPS county codes.

NOAA's SAME alert protocol was later adopted and put into use by the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in 1997 – the replacement for the earlier Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) and even earlier CONELRAD – now required by the FCC for broadcast stations. Environment Canada eventually integrated SAME alerting capability into its Weatheradio Canada network in 2004.[6]

In September 2008, Walgreens announced that it would utilize SAME technology to deliver local weather alerts via a system of LED billboards located outside of its drugstore locations (those built or remodeled since 2000) to provide an additional avenue of weather information.[7] Many national billboard companies (such as Outfront Media, Clear Channel Outdoor and Lamar, among others) 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 Alerts, also display weather warnings.

Programming[edit]


Problems playing this file? See media help.
Hazardous Weather Outlook for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and vicinity. The product also includes a tropical update.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Note: The blue text in the sample text products below indicate links; the color of all text in the original alert issued was black. Conversions in the quote boxes below are not used by most NOAA Weather Radio stations and are included in this article for the purpose of disambiguation.

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. During severe weather situations, Watch Information Statements for government-designated jurisdictions served by the local NWR station are typically inserted within the station's normal playlist of routine products; a special severe weather playlist temporarily suspends most regularly scheduled routine products in the event National Weather Service-issued warnings (mainly severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood warnings) are in effect for the station's broadcast area, which solely incorporate watch, warning and Special Weather Statements, and any active Short-Term Forecasts and Hazardous Weather Outlooks.

Routine forecast products[edit]

The main public forecast products typically played during the day's program cycle are:

Hourly observations[edit]

A typical hourly observation report, which is updated once (or twice depending on the station or National Weather Service office, or whether severe weather conditions are ongoing) per hour at the top of and at 11 minutes past the hour, heard over NOAA Weather Radio stations features the following information:

At 8 a.m. 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.

—Example from KWN41 in Shubert, Nebraska.
  • Current observations – usually limited to sky condition, temperature and wind speed/direction (although accompanied by dew point, humidity and pressure data on some NWR stations) – within 50–75 miles (80–121 km) of the Weather Forecast Office and main reporting station.

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.

—Example from KWN41.
  • Current sky condition and temperature observations (accompanied by wind speed/direction data on certain stations) within 250 miles (400 km) of the WFO area of responsibility.

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.

—Example from KWN41.

Conditions for the closest observation site are typically used as a substitute in the lead of the segment if no report is available from the main reporting station, in which case the substituted station's observations will not be repeated at the end of the segment. In some locales, in the event any weather reporting station (whether the main station or a distant site) whose condition reports are regularly included in the segment had absent data, or no data available, the following message would be played in its place:

The report from Downtown Los Angeles was not available.

—Example from KWO37 in Los Angeles.

In some areas, a major city featured within the regional observations would always provide weather conditions; if a condition report is unavailable, the message "the weather conditions were not available" would precede the city. In addition, the regional portion of the segment may be condensed to a roundup format for select or all cities, if temperatures are within a 5° range and/or if sky conditions are the same or differ limitedly at each given reporting site (for example: "skies ranged from sunny to mostly sunny, and temperatures were between 57 and 62 degrees"). Sky conditions and/or temperatures for individual weather reporting stations may only be mentioned if weather conditions differ between multiple locations.

Occasionally, due to technical or other issues, the previous hour's observations segment may be included in the product playlist as long as 15 minutes into the next hour, after which it is removed until updated information is available.

Hazardous Weather Outlook[edit]

When conditions warrant, a Hazardous Weather Outlook is issued (usually twice each day at around 7:00 a.m. and noon local time) by a local weather forecast office (WFO) addressing potentially hazardous weather or hydrologic events that may affect that WFO's area of responsibility over the next seven days. The outlook will include information about potential thunderstorm activity (including any areas forecast to be under threat of severe thunderstorms), heavy rain or flooding, winter weather, wildfire, extremes of heat or cold, or other conditions that may pose a hazard or threat to travel, life and/or property. 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 NWS-trained SKYWARN volunteer 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 Public Severe Weather Outlook. Occasionally, a NWS WFO may update the Hazardous Weather Outlook while an event is ongoing or if forecast models denote changes from previous forecasts.

Depending on the Weather Forecast Office, the Hazardous Weather Outlook may either roundup all weather hazards for the seven-day period or in areas prone to severe weather, are prefaced by a thunderstorm outlook followed by a roundup of any other hazardous weather separated by the current day and the succeeding six days (days two through seven) of the forecast period.

Sample HWOs[edit]

The following example of a Hazardous Weather Outlook was issued by the National Weather Service in North Little Rock, Arkansas on February 24, 2011:

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.

$$

Source:[8]

Zone Forecast Product (ZFP)[edit]

A Zone Forecast Product is a text product issued by all WFOs to explicitly state expected weather conditions within each zone in their area of forecast responsibility over the next seven days. The product describes the expected sky condition (along with the chance and type of precipitation, if liquid and/or frozen precipitation is forecast), the temperature range for the county zone (typically described as for example: "Lows in the lower 50s"; though if forecasted temperatures in the county zone are to be around a specific point, it may be written as "Low around 55," for example, in such cases) and the forecasted winds; the wind forecast only appears within the first 72 hours of the product's forecast period.

For many federal holidays such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, the name of the holiday is denoted to substitute the name of that specific day of the week, and is read within the forecast product. The conditions for the final five days of the forecast period may be rounded up if forecasted high and/or low temperatures are predicted to be within less than a 10° range and/or weather conditions are forecast to change very little over some portion or throughout that timeframe (for example: "Tuesday through Friday: Partly cloudy, lows in the lower 70s and highs in the upper 90s").

Regional Weather Synopsis[edit]

The Regional Weather Synopsis, also known as the "Regional Weather Summary" (the terminology varies depending on the local National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office), is a product that provides a brief recap of weather events from the previous or current day within the region, followed by an outlook of expected weather from the current time to the next few days. This product is broadcast and updated twice per day in the late morning and late evening.

Sample RWS[edit]

The following example of a Regional Weather Synopsis was issued by the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth/Dallas, Texas on April 2, 2010:

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[edit]

Climate Summaries comprise three separate general information products illustrating recently observed weather conditions:

  • Area Climate Summary – Generally made available from 5:00 to 9:00 a.m. local time and broadcast mainly on stations in the largest cities within the WFO area of responsibility. In some areas, this product is played in 15-minute intervals, while most NWR stations air this product with each product cycle. The product includes information on the minimum and maximum temperatures recorded the previous day; 30-year temperature averages and historical temperature extremes recorded since weather records for the reporting station were first logged (both as compared to the previous day's actual high and low temperatures, and in regards to historical records for the current date); the previous day's recorded precipitation, and monthly and annual total precipitation in comparison to their respective 30-year averages; and heating and/or cooling degree day data. In some areas, the sunrise and sunset times for the next two days are incorporated into the product, whereas in other areas, the sunrise and sunset times are featured as a separate product that is broadcast daily during the early-mid morning and early evening hours.
  • Regional Climate Summary – Generally made available from the mid-morning to early afternoon, this product summarizes actual high and low temperatures and precipitation amounts for regional sections of the WFO that were recorded between 7:00 a.m. local time the previous day and 7:00 a.m. the present day.
  • Afternoon Climate Summary – Generally made available from 4:00 to 10:00 p.m. local time and updated throughout the period. The product provides information on minimum and maximum temperatures, and total precipitation recorded since 12:00 a.m. local time. Group of stations operated under some WFOs also incorporate average and extreme temperatures and average and current monthly/annual precipitation totals for the date (as included in the Area Climate Summary) within this product. The summary is subject to updates due to changes in maximum and/or minimum temperature or measured precipitation recorded during the product's broadcast period.

Specialty forecast products[edit]

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)[edit]

A Short Term Forecast (sometimes referred by certain stations depending on the region as a "Regional Weather Discussion" or the "NOW-Cast," and as a "Local Update" when shown during the mid to late 1990s in WeatherStar 4000-generated local forecast segments aired by The Weather Channel), is a localized, event-driven product used to provide the public with detailed weather information during significant and/or rapidly changing hydrometeorological conditions during the next six hours. This product when broadcast 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)[edit]

A Special Weather Statement is a 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. A significant weather advisory may be issued within a Special Weather Statement, often if thunderstorm activity – whether severe or not – is occurring in or approaching an area, as a precursor to or in lieu of a warning.

Sample SPS[edit]

The following example of a Special Weather Statement was issued by the National Weather Service office in San Angelo, Texas on September 6, 2010:

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)[edit]

A Tabular State Forecast Product is a general seven-day public forecast of hydrometeorological conditions for the entire WFO area of responsibility. This product is not part of the regular program cycle, and will only be broadcast on all stations within the WFOs area of responsibility in the event the Console Replacement System (CRS) is not operational due to technical difficulties or system maintenance.

Record Information Announcement (RER)[edit]

A Record Information Announcement 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)[edit]

A Surf Zone Forecast 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.

River Forecast[edit]

Daily river forecasts are issued by the 13 River Forecast Centers (RFC) using hydrologic models based on variables such as rainfall, soil characteristics and precipitation forecasts. Some RFCs, especially those in mountainous regions, also provide seasonal snow pack and peak flow forecasts.

A separate product, River and Small Stream Observations, is broadcast in areas in and outside of the 13 River Forecast Centers and is only broadcast following a significant hydrological event featuring information on crests, and present and forecasted flood stages.

Lake Forecast[edit]

Lake Forecasts (sometimes referred to as "Near Shore Marine Forecasts" and "Open Waters Forecast"; depending on the station and area) are text products issued by most WFOs in the Great Lakes region to explicitly state expected weather conditions within their marine forecast area of responsibility through the next five days. The product also addresses expected wave heights and small-craft advisories currently in effect.

Coastal Waters Forecast (CWF)[edit]

A Coastal Waters Forecast is a text product issued by all coastal WFOs to explicitly state expected weather conditions and wave heights within their marine forecast area of responsibility through the next five days.

Offshore Waters Forecast (OFF)[edit]

An Offshore Waters Forecast is a text product issued by the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) that provides five-day forecasts and warning information intended for mariners travelling on oceanic waters adjacent to the U.S. coastline.

Tropical Weather Summary[edit]

Tropical Weather Summaries are an event-driven product updated every three hours, which provides an information summary on any active tropical cyclones. Activity summaries for the Atlantic Basin are disseminated to NWR stations located in states near the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, while stations along the West Coast receive summaries concerning the Pacific Ocean. Depending on the station and associated Weather Forecast Office, listeners can hear this product at the top and bottom of every hour.

Emergency Alert Test Procedure[edit]

The weekly alert system test, usually conducted between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon local time every Wednesday, as heard on Milwaukee's KEC60 on November 24, 2010.

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Every local National Weather Service weather forecast office conducts a scheduled weekly test of the NOAA Weather Radio public alert system, generally every Wednesday between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon. Some NWS WFOs, such as those in Melbourne, Ruskin, Florida, and Topeka, Kansas, conduct a second test in the evening hours, usually between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m.; certain others conduct secondary tests at other times including the Birmingham, Alabama WFO, which conducts a second test each Saturday morning between 10:00 a.m. and noon, the Louisville, Kentucky WFO, which conducts a second test on Tuesday evenings at 6:00 pm, and the Rapid City, South Dakota WFO, which conducts an additional test on Mondays between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m.). NOAA Weather Radio also broadcasts tests of the Emergency Alert System on pre-determined days and times.

If there is a threat of severe weather that day in a NWR station's listening area, the weekly test is postponed until the next available fair weather day (barring that severe weather is not forecast to occur then, a short message stating the reason for the test's cancellation will also be broadcast). The required weekly test (SAME event code "RWT") interrupts regular NWR programming - during the test, a SAME data header is sent, followed by a 1050 Hz attention tone, the voice test message, then a SAME end-of-message (EOM) signal. The text of the test message used by most NWS offices, with variations depending on the office, is as follows:

"This is the National Weather Service office in [city]. The preceding signal was a test of the NOAA Weather Radio warning alarm system on station [call sign of radio 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 National Weather Service office on Wednesdays at [time of day]. 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. 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]. (Note: when the test involves counties in more than one state, the name of the state prefaces the list of counties/parishes/boroughs; for example, Kansas City station KID-77 features it as follows: "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 on NOAA Weather Radio station (call sign). We now return to normal programming."[9]

Some NWS Weather Forecast Offices, such as those based in Taunton, Massachusetts[10] and Phoenix, Arizona,[11] use a completely different test script.[10]

Some NWS Weather Forecast Offices, such as the Spokane, Washington WFO, use a short script for the main SAME test,[12] and send out a 1050 Hz tone for the main test message.[12]

The NWS Weather Forecast Office in Greenville, South Carolina, simply uses a message informing NWR listeners to "stand by for important weather information" should a weather warning be issued. However, this seems to be hard-coded into the system and tests of the SAME device serving the Greenville-Spartanburg area are also prefaced with this message.

Voices[edit]

A previous NOAA Weather Radio logo

Prior to 1997, the bulk of NWR programming was conducted by a meteorologist recording each message and setting up a looping broadcast cycle. As the NWS added more transmitters to provide broader radio coverage, WFO staff had difficulty keeping broadcast cycles updated in a timely fashion, especially during major 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 those in 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.[13] The Voice Improvement Plan (VIP) was implemented, involving a separate computer processor linked into CRS that fed digitized sound files to the broadcast suite.[14] 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 products broadcast by their NWR stations. 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 WFOs, the station identification (for 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 staged contests whereby their listeners can choose a name for their synthesized voices. The Wichita, KS Weather Office, for example, gave the "Paul" voice the name "Chance Storm"; when the VIP voices came along, the Wichita office chose the "Donna" voice to broadcast routine products and gave her the name "Misty Dawn." Incidentally, the office has never had such a contest for "Craig" or "Tom", whom it uses for urgent products.

Human voices are still heard on occasion, but sparingly, mainly during station identifications, 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.

Four forecast offices broadcast weather information entirely in Spanish on a separate station from the English broadcasts: San Diego (WNG712 in Coachella/Riverside), El Paso (WNG652), Miami (WZ2531 in Hialeah, since 2012), and Brownsville (WZ2541 in Pharr and WZ2542 in Harlingen, since 2014) use a male Spanish synthesized voice named "Javier" for all broadcasts. The Albuquerque Weather Forecast Office uses "Javier" for repeating weather alerts in Spanish after their initial dissemination in English. WXJ69 in San Juan, Puerto Rico broadcasts all information, including forecasts, in the same manner.

See also[edit]

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