NOAA Weather Radio, the voice of the National Weather Service, provides updated weather information continuously, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
To receive the broadcasts originating from the National Weather Service, a special radio capable of receiving signals in the Very High Frequency (VHF) public service band is required.
In Alabama, frequencies from 162.400 to 162.550 megahertz are used for NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts. Alabama is served by 29 transmitters which places approximately 95 percent of the people in the state within range of a weather radio transmitter.
National Weather Service personnel prepare weather information that is broadcast in three to five minute cycles. This includes watches and warnings, area forecasts for the next seven days, current weather conditions, climate data, and other weather information.
NOAA Weather Radio is useful anytime, but becomes more important during severe weather.
During threatening weather, normal broadcasts are interrupted, and the focus is shifted to the local severe weather threat. Watches, warnings, and statements are given the highest priority and are frequently updated.
NOAA Weather Radio is also a major part of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) that disseminates critical warning information rapidly through commercial broadcast outlets. In an emergency, each NOAA Weather Radio station will transmit a warning alarm tone signal followed by information on the emergency situation.
This signal is capable of activating specially designed receivers by increasing the volume or producing a visual and/or audible alarm.
Not all weather band receivers have this capability, but all radios that receive NOAA Weather Radio can receive the emergency broadcasts.
The warning alarm device is tested each Wednesday, usually between 11 am and noon, weather permitting.
A feature available in the newest weather radio receivers called SAME, Specific Area Message Encoding, allows weather radios to be programmed for the reception of critical weather information for counties in your area.