NOAA Weather Radio

Recently the National Weather Service in Caribou has significantly expanded its NOAA weather radio coverage to serve over 95% of the population in Northern and Downeast Maine.

Location Frequency Call Sign Power
Mars Hill 162.525 MHz WXM-77 100 watt
Ellsworth 162.400 MHz KEC-93 1000 watt
Milo 162.450 MHz KHB-54 1000 watt
Frenchville 162.475 MHz KHB-55 300 watt
Springfield (coming soon) 162.500 MHz WXN-28 1000 watt
Meddybemps (coming soon) 162.425 MHz WHC-47 1000 watt

Console Replacement System

In March of 2000 the National Weather Service in Caribou has switched over to a new NOAA weather radio platform. The synthesized voice will be phased in over time. Eventually, all forecasts, warnings and weather information will be broadcast with the synthesized voice.

This new automated system (which is being implemented nationwide) provides faster broadcasts of severe weather watches, warnings and emergency information. This is because over because multiple warnings can be both recorded and transmitted at once. This capability dramatically speeds up the broadcast of warnings during multiple severe weather events. The automated technology allows forecasters to devote more time to critical warning services and forecast duties.

Also, automating the process will make it easier for listeners to tune to NOAA Weather Radio at particular times for the information they need. Forecast offices will be able to broadcast particular forecasts and information such as marine and river forecasts or climate summaries in time slots on a more regular schedule (for example, at :06, :16, :26, :36, :46, and :56 after each hour).

Weather Radio Alert Receivers

The below Maine county FIPS codes are used by the next generation of Weather Alert Receivers. These "SAME-activated" Weather Alert Receivers alert the user when a warning is issued only for a particular county of interest. In order for them to work...the user must input the appropriate county FIPS code from the list above. The new "SAME-activated" Weather Alert Receiver allows the listener to receive warnings only for the county of interest. The older style of Weather Alert receiver alerts for all warnings issued by a NOAA Weather Radio Station regardless of county. Please note that the current NOAA Weather Radio format continues to support both the old and new style of Weather Alert Receiver.

County FIPS Code County FIPS Code
Androscoggin 023001 Oxford 023017
Aroostook 023003 Penobscot 023019
Cumberland 023005 Piscataquis 023021
Franklin 023007 Sagadahoc 023023
Hancock 023009 Somerset 023025
Kennebec 023011 Waldo 023027
Knox 023013 Washington 023029
Lincoln 023015 York 023031

Weather Radio History

NOAA Weather Radio is a service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. As the "Voice of the National Weather Service", it provides continuous broadcasts of the latest weather information from local National Weather Service offices. Weather messages are repeated every 4 to 6 minutes, and are routinely updated every 1 to 3 hours or more frequently in rapidly changing local weather, or if a nearby hazardous environmental condition exists. The service operates 24 hours daily. The regular broadcasts are specifically tailored to weather information needs of the people within the service area of the transmitter. For example, in addition to general weather information, stations in coastal areas provide information of interest to mariners. Other specialized information, such as hydrological forecasts and climatological data, may be broadcast.

During severe weather, National Weather Service forecasters can interrupt the routine weather broadcasts and insert special warning messages concerning imminent threats to life and property. The forecaster can also add special signals to warnings that trigger "alerting" features of specially equipped receivers. This is known as the tone alert feature, and acts much like a smoke detector in that it will alarm when necessary to warn of an impending hazard. Currently, all receivers equipped with the tone alert feature within the listening area will alarm when a warning is issued. However, in the future, only receivers located in the warned area (normally a specific county or counties) will alarm. This feature is referred to as Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME), and will be the primary activator for the new Emergency Alert System currently being implemented by the Federal Communication Commission.

Under a January 1975 White House policy statement, NOAA Weather Radio was designated the sole government-operated radio system to provide direct warnings into private homes for both natural disasters and nuclear attack. This concept is being expanded to include warnings for all hazardous conditions that pose a threat to life and safety, both at a local and national level. NOAA Weather Radio currently broadcasts from over 400 FM transmitters on seven frequencies in the VHF band, ranging from 162.400 to 162.550 megahertz (MHz) in fifty states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and Saipan. These frequencies are outside the normal AM or FM broadcast bands.

Special radios that receive only NOAA Weather Radio, both with and without the tone alert feature, are available from several manufacturers. The radios can usually be found at most department and electronics stores. In addition, other manufacturers are including NOAA Weather Radio as a special feature on an increasing number of receivers. NOAA Weather Radio capability is currently available on some automobile, aircraft, marine, citizens band, and standard AM/FM radios, as well as communications receivers, transceivers, scanners, and cable TV.

By nature and by design, NOAA Weather Radio coverage is typically limited to an area within 40 miles of the transmitter. The quality of what is heard is dictated by the distance from the transmitter, local terrain, and the quality and location of the receiver. In general, those on flat terrain or at sea, using a high quality receiver, can expect reliable reception far beyond 40 miles. Those living in cities surrounded by large buildings, and those in mountain valleys, with standard receivers may experience little or no reception at considerably less than 40 miles. If possible, a receiver should be tested in the location where it will be used prior to purchase.

NOAA Weather Radio is directly available to approximately 70 to 80 percent of the U.S. population. The National Weather Service is currently engaged in a program to increase coverage to 95 percent of the population.

For more information on this, try the NOAA Weather Radio Homepage.

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