WX Weather Radio

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Weather Band Radio, also known as NWR or NOAA Weather Radio in the United States, is a network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information directly from a nearby transmitter to a geographic location. Weather radio is broadcast in the VHF frequency spectrum using FM modulation. Weather radio is also called NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards.

NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency under 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

WX1 through WX7 are the standard "weather band" channels, as assigned and implemented by NOAA. 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.

Frequency Official name Marine Channel Public Alert Channel
162.400 MHz WX2 36B 1
162.425 MHz WX4 96B 2
162.450 MHz WX5 37B 3
162.475 MHz WX3 97B 4
162.500 MHz WX6 38B 5
162.525 MHz WX7 98B 6
162.550 MHz WX1 39B 7
161.650 MHz WX8 21B
161.775 MHz WX9 83B
163.275 MHz WX10 113B

See Nationwide Station Listing Using Broadcast Frequencies for all weather radio stations in your area.

Weather Band and Weather Alert Radio

A weather alert radio automatically responds when it receives an emergency alert. It quietly monitors and does not place audio to the speaker unless there is an alert. A weather band radio constantly places audio to the speaker providing continuous weather information.

To receive alerts, a weather band radio must be turned on and tuned to the local weather station. A weather alert radio will automatically override other radio functions when it receives an alert. This can mean that it is otherwise quiet unless there is an alert, or if you are listing to broadcast FM radio the alert will override and be heard.

NOAA Weather Radio works with other Federal agencies, including the Emergency Alert System (EAS), to provide complete weather and emergency information. When a situation calls for a weather or civil alert, a digital signal is sent on all transmitters covering that area. Examples of situations calling for a weather alert include winter storms, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flash floods. Civil alerts are broadcast for other emergencies.

You can receive weather radio broadcasts on receivers that are designed to tune into these weather radio frequencies. Listening to the weather information all the time, or switching to "alert only mode" are the two options on a typical weather alert radio. On the weather alert mode the radio will quietly listen to the broadcast for emergency information. When the radio detects there is an emergency broadcast, it un-mutes the speaker so you can hear it.

What actually wakes up the radio when on "alert mode" is a technology called S.A.M.E. or Specific Alert Message Encoding. A basic weather radio can be set to turn on for all hazards, which is fine if you want to be alerted for everything. Using the S.A.M.E. technology you can control what type of alert will be heard. S.A.M.E. technology takes weather alert radio to a new level.

Prior to S.A.M.E. technology, and now used in conjunction with it is a simple audio tone at 1050Hz which is what will awaken a basic weather alert radio. The advanced newer weather alert radios using S.A.M.E. will be aware of the tone, but will not awaken unless the type of alert matches your listening preference.

Older Weather Radio Channels

It should be noted that the naming convention for the weather alert frequency to channel has been updated. Older weather radios use a different name to frequency convention. For example, older weather alert radios have 162.400MHz assigned as WX2 rather than WX1 as it is today.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts began in the 1950s when the old Weather Bureau started broadcasting weather information over two stations. In the 1960s, stations were added for the marine community, and by the late 1970s, the system included more than 300 stations. n 1975, NOAA Weather Radio became the only government-operated radio system for providing direct warnings to the public.