NOAA National Weather Service, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management offer weather radio programming

When the wind blows and storm clouds cover Oklahoma, residents can keep ahead of severe weather by tuning in to NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards, a 24-hour source of weather forecasts, watches and warnings provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service.

Staff from the National Weather Service Norman Forecast Office, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and the Oklahoma City Department of Emergency Management will be available to program weather radios from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (April 8) near the escalator in the Center Court area of Penn Square Mall. The event is free and open to the public.

For countless people throughout Oklahoma, Weather Radio has meant the difference between life and death and has given its listeners confidence to react when severe, potentially life-threatening weather approaches.

“A Weather Radio with an alarm and battery back-up is one of the best ways to protect your family from tornadoes and other severe weather,” said Mike Foster, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service Norman Forecast Office. “The severe weather information on Weather Radio can prompt you to take life-saving action. It can also alert you to tune to television or radio if you’re asleep or not watching television, or if the power is knocked out.”

Weather radios can be purchased at many electronics stores. They come in many sizes, with a variety of functions and costs. Most Weather Radio receivers are either battery-operated portables or AC-powered desktop models with battery backup. Most scanners, amateur radios, CB radios, short wave receivers, and some AM/FM radios also are capable of receiving Weather Radio transmissions.

“Weather Radio saves lives,” Foster said. “We encourage everyone to equip their homes, schools, businesses and public places with this life-saving device. In Oklahoma, Weather Radios should be as common as smoke detectors.”

According to the National Weather Service, over 90 percent of Oklahoma’s population can receive Weather Radio broadcasts. However, a much smaller percentage actually own a NOAA Weather Radio.

Oklahoma is served by a total of 20 Weather Radio transmitters, 13 of which are located in the state: Altus, Ardmore, Atoka, Bartlesville, Broken Bow, Clinton, Enid, Grove, Lawton, McAlester, Oklahoma City, Ponca City, Tulsa and Woodward. Oklahomans also benefit from transmitters in adjacent states, including Wichita Falls, Sherman, Paris, and Texarkana, Texas; and Fort Smith and Fayetteville, Ark.

Weather Radio is “The Voice of the National Weather Service,” but in recent years the sound of the voice has changed. Automation, which allows NWS Forecast Offices to speed critical weather information from advanced workstations directly to the growing number of transmitters, makes use of a computer synthesized voice.

With new digital technology called Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME), the alarm on a Weather Radio can be programmed to only alert for counties you select. This new technology eliminates many of the delays inherent in the older systems and allows simultaneous broadcasts on multiple transmitters when necessary. It also makes better use of other new technology such as SAME, and the Emergency Alert System, which brings critical warnings to commercial broadcasters faster than ever before. The system allows radio broadcasters to break in live with critical information if necessary.

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

Additional contacts:
Rick Smith, (405) 366-6570, richard.smith@noaa.gov
Michelann Ooten, (405) 205-1879, michelann.ooten@oem.ok.gov