What To Look For When Purchasing A Weather Radio

11:00 PM, Dec 12, 2013   |    comments
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A viewer recently emailed WFMY News 2 Chief Meteorologist Grant Gilmore and said that they were looking to purchase a Weather Radio as a gift and wanted to know what kind he recommended. 

Below is a response from Grant to anyone who is considering purchasing a weather radio:

First off I will say right off the bat that I recommend ANY NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Weather Radio and giving it as a gift is a great way to give something that could potentially save somebody's life.

The first thing you'll want to make sure of when purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio is that it is actually a "NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards" Weather Radio. I've seen some knock off 'Weather Radios' that advertise as giving weather conditions, but don't actually alert you when the National Weather Service issues weather alerts. The NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service Office. For us in the Piedmont Triad that could be Raleigh, NC, Greenville, SC or Blacksburg, VA. The great thing about NWR is that it broadcasts warning and post-event information for all types of hazards including natural events such as earthquakes, environmental accidents and public safety issues.  There are seven frequencies that are consistent throughout all 50 states , adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Pacific Territories transmitted from 1,000 transmitters. So, once you own a NOAA Weather Radio you can receive alert information anywhere in the U.S.

So, what NOAA Weather Radio do you purchase? Ultimately it is up to you and how you think you will get the most out of it. Buy something that you think you (or who you are buying for) will use. So often people buy a NOAA Weather Radio and it just ends up sitting in the corner... collecting dust. A dusty, unplugged NOAA Weather Radio cannot and will not save your life. The reason many people end up storing the radio in the corner is because it alerts for every single weather alert seemingly within a 100 mile radius. This occurs when you purchase one of the more economical radios. They are still effective, but they simply scan the seven frequencies for alerts. So, anytime there is an alert on anyone of the those frequencies you'll get it.

Enter S.A.M.E. Technology:

S.A.M.E. stands for Specific Area Message Encoding and if you have a Weather Radio equipped with this technology it will allow you to program the alerts to only sound for your area. I highly recommend paying the extra money for a radio that has the S.A.M.E. technology because this ensures that you only receive the alerts for your area.  These radios require a little programming, but most radios come with good instruction manuals for how to program them. Here is a list of S.A.M.E. codes for North Carolina.

In addition to the basic Hazards Alert function, different radios come equipped with an array of additional features such as, power cranks, solar power panels, AM/FM Radios, cell phone charges, etc... The more add on's usually means the more $$ that you will end up paying. But again, buy something that you'll use!!


You can purchase a basic Midland NOAA Weather Radio at your local corner drug store. I know Walgreens and CVS usually have them. The basic Midland NOAA Weather Radio will usually cost around $20.


If you want to go for the S.A.M.E Technology of the Midland NOAA Weather radio it runs for around $50, but I have seen it on sale for as low as $35.


I also recently came across this Sangean's compact Table-Top S.A.M.E. Weather Alert Radio. It's a little more expensive, but looks like it might be worth it. This version costs around $70.


If you search online you can find radios at places like Radio Shack, Cabela's, Bass Pro Shop, Walmart and other outdoor/electronic stores. You can also find some good radios online at the Red Cross store. You will find a good assortment of radios online, but remember to keep an eye out for the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards and if you prefer the S.A.M.E. technology.

I'm always interested to hear what type of radio people purchase and what they think of it after it has been used. So, let me know!

If you have any questions about weather radios please don't hesitate to ask. Send Grant an email at ggilmore@wfmy.com or find him on facebook or twitter.

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