National Weather Service offers help programming NOAA weather radios

Staff from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Norman will help NOAA Weather Radio owners program their units from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday (March 25) at Sooner Mall, 3301 W. Main St., in Norman.

Oklahoma City area residents have purchased nearly 8,000 life-saving NOAA Weather Radios through a special program that began five weeks ago. Operation Warn is an initiative to make available 100,000 specially-priced NOAA Weather Radios to Oklahoma City residents by the end of 2002 coordinated by Oklahoma City Emergency Management, Oklahoma Department of Civil Emergency Management and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service.

“A NOAA Weather Radio with an alarm and battery back-up is one of the best ways to protect your family from tornadoes, especially at night when it can wake you up and alert you to turn to commercial radio and television for more information,” said Dennis McCarthy, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service Norman Forecast Office.

When severe weather watches and warnings are issued, an alarm will sound and the radio will turn itself on to broadcast the information. With new digital technology called Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME), the alarm on a NOAA Weather Radio can be limited to counties in the immediate area. On Saturday, National Weather Service staff will provide the special codes needed to do this and instructions for programming the radio.

According to the National Weather Service, between 85 to 95 percent of Americans can receive NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts, however only 5 to 10 percent actually own a NOAA Weather Radio.

“We encourage everyone to equip their homes, schools, businesses and public places with this life-saving device. We want to make NOAA Weather Radios as common as smoke detectors,” McCarthy said.

Also at Sooner Mall will be displays from the other three NOAA Weather Partners in Norman: National Severe Storms Laboratory, Storm Prediction Center and NEXRAD Operational Support Facility. Staff from these organizations will provide tornado safety information, show and explain Doppler radar images and answer questions about severe weather research and forecasting. A mobile laboratory outfitted with weather instruments used by the National Severe Storms Laboratory for field research also will be on display.

For more information, call 360-3620 or 360-5928.

Information about NOAA Weather Radio is available online at: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun and http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr