- Not all weather radios are programmable. If you want to be able to program your weather radio, look for a radio that has SAME (specific area message encoding). This will let you select the counties you want to be alerted for. More expensive radios will let you select what types of messages you want to hear, but most radios do not have this feature. Most multi-band radios that include am/fm radio, flashlights, TV sound, etc do not have the warning alarm feature.
- You should also look for a radio that has a battery back-up feature. This will ensure the radio keeps working even if the power goes out.
- Some radios have additional features, like external antenna jacks and jacks to connect external alerting devices for special needs groups, like the hearing impaired (strobe lights, bed shakers, etc). If you live in an area that is more distant from the closest weather radio transmitter, or are in a building where radio reception is difficult, an external antenna can be extremely helpful.
Helpful Operating Tips
- Warnings are issued by counties by the National Weather Service. Weather radios will alarm for a warning anywhere in the county. You should pay attention to the text of the warning for storm location, movement and towns in the path, or tune to local television for the most detailed information on the storm.
- You can find county codes, transmitter specific coverage maps, frequencies and lots of other information about weather radio at the following website
- NWS tests the warning alarm feature every Wednesday around noon, unless there is a threat of severe weather. This is the time to make sure your radio is programmed correctly and that you can hear the alarm. In the very near future, we will also begin testing the radio alarm feature on Wednesday evenings. More information will be coming about that next week.
- Weather radio is now truly an all hazards radio, with the capability to broadcast emergency messages for non-weather events, from hazardous materials incidents to civil emergencies and fire warnings. This functionality will continue to expand in the coming months.
- Some counties are able to receive broadcasts from more than one weather radio transmitter. You should be sure the transmitter you are listening to provides warnings and information for your county, and that you are monitoring the strongest available signal. To see which counties are covered by which transmitter(s) visit this website