A new type of NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) receiver is now available which allows you to program your receiver for the alerts that you wish to receive. New technology added to the NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) called the Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME) allows us to send coded information for specific severe weather events. This coded information includes the type of warning, the county the warning is valid for, the issue time, as well as the length of valid time. The programmable NWR receivers use this coded information to allow you to decide which watches or warnings you want to be alerted for and for which county(s) you would like these alerts. This would mean that you could set your receiver to only alert for watches and warnings for your county if you wish. The alert would not have to go off for all the 1050 hertz alarms that apply to the entire coverage area of each transmitter.
In the past, NOAA Weather Radio has used only one alarm tone for all watches, warnings, and emergency announcements to activate receivers throughout the transmitter’s service area. So everyone’s radio was turned on for all tornado warnings, etc., in all the counties served by the NWR transmitter. Your NWR alert may have been activated for warnings issued for storms which would never be a threat to your county. With the new generation NOAA Weather Radios that have the SAME function you may program your radio to alarm for watches and warnings affecting only a specific area. The older NOAA Weather Radios that use the 1050 hertz tone for alarms will continue to work.
The National Weather Service uses the SAME technology on the NOAA Weather Radio to get warnings into the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The EAS is now an automated system. Using the NOAA Weather Radio and the SAME technology to deliver warnings to the Emergency Alert System can decrease the time it takes to air warnings over commercial radio and television stations. In turn, this can increase the time that people have to take protective actions and save lives.
People should carefully evaluate the new SAME feature NOAA Weather Radio since features and functions will vary with each manufacturer.
Note: SAME county codes can be obtained on the Internet at:
(Mary Jo Parker is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the Wilmington, OH NWS office)