Staying alert with NWS receivers

Originally published June 24, 2013 on

Most home and car radios cannot receive important National Weather Servicebroadcasts, so having a radio that can pick up these alerts is crucial.

NOAA Weather Radios are receivers that can pick up important NWS warnings and alerts for your area. Basic AM/FM radios aren’t able to pick up the frequency that NWS broadcasts are transmitted on, so look for a radio that is Public Alert™certified or has the NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) All Hazards logo.

If you want to know about weather watches and warnings only, a standalone receiver might be right for you. Multi-band receivers can tune in to multiple frequency bands (AM/FM, shortwave, CB, etc) and can include weather radio are also a good option.

It may also be useful to get a receiver with a tone alarm, which will be able to pick up the NWS’s 1050 Hz tone before important broadcasts that actually turns on the audio even if the radio is turned off. Radios equipped with Specific Alert Message Encoding (SAME) technology will allow you to screen a particular area for warnings from the NWS.

The NWS also recommends radios that are equipped with a backup battery and external antenna jack.

Because the NWS does not manufacture any of these radios, it may be difficult to find a hazard radio that works for you. Receivers can cost between $20 – $100 and can be found at most sporting goods, electronic, and department stores, as well asonline.


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