Within the state of Washington, weather information is primarily received through the National Weather Service Weather Wire and Radio. The Weather Wire is served through a satellite downlink with the information transported to the state EOC and Washington State Patrol (WSP) ACCESS Operations via Department of Transportation (DOT) and WSP microwave radio systems. At WSP ACCESS Operations, selected Washington weather products/information are retransmitted via the WSP ACCESS network to local jurisdictions. Through the Weather Wire, appropriate weather warnings, watches, special weather statements, and other valuable information is available in narrative/text form.
- NWS Seattle - serves northwest Washington from Lewis and Grays Harbor counties northward.
- NWS Portland - serves the counties along the Columbia river in southwest Washington.
- NWS Spokane - serves northeast Washington from Chelan to Garfield and Asotin counties.
- NWS Pendleton - serves south central Washington from Kittitas to Columbia counties.
NOAA Weather Radio is the voice of the National Weather Service, broadcasting the latest area weather forecasts and conditions 24-hours a day.
NOAA Weather Radio protects lives! It is an "all-hazards" warning system, used not only for immediate flood and weather related events, but also hazards like tsunamis, volcanic activity, hazardous releases, AMBER child abduction alerts, and secondary hazards from terrorism and earthquakes. Weather radio receivers behave like smoke detectors, silently monitoring, and then alerting you to the initial warning message upon receipt, providing more time to respond to the event. Tests of this feature occur each Wednesday around mid-day, unless significant weather threatens.
Under a 1975 White House policy statement, NOAA Weather Radio was designated the sole government-operated radio system to provide warning information direct to the American people for both natural and technological hazards.
NOAA Weather Radio is a lifesaver for the cost of a pair of shoes.
NOAA Weather Radio is a perfect complement to local broadcast news, as well as the Internet and other weather information sources. It serves as a "first-alert" to the hazardous event. Most news-oriented broadcasters will offer further information. Tests of the weather radio warning alarms are conducted by each NWS office serving Washington state each Wednesday around midday (unless current active weather postpones the test to the next quieter day).
Weather Radio has a warning alarm feature, instantly alerting you to fast-breaking warning messages around the clock. The warning alarm operates in a muted mode and is activated by your local National Weather Service (NWS) offices when a warning message is transmitted. Some models activate flashing warning lights and bed vibrators for the sight and hearing impaired.
NOAA Weather Radio is also a key component of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), providing broadcasters and ultimately the public with immediate emergency warning information.
Local emergency management organizations can use NOAA Weather Radio to activate the EAS in local emergencies using Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME) technology. NOAA Weather Radio monitors other authorized EAS sources and automatically retransmits their emergency messages.
NOAA Weather Radio and EAS (SAME) capabilities help save lives and property.
Weather Radios are portable. They can be used at home, at work, in school, while traveling or boating, while camping, hiking or at play.
Weather Radios use batteries in case of power outages or for portable receivers.
NOAA Weather Radio operates on seven Very High Frequency (VHF) FM frequencies, ranging from 162.40 to 162.55 MHz.
Listing of NOAA Weather Radio serving Washington state: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/Maps/PHP/WA.php
Why weather radio?
Do you have a smoke detector? Of course. It alerts you when it detects smoke. Weather radios alert you to many other immediate, life-threatening hazards in your area, like weather, tsunamis, volcanos, hazardous releases, and other dangerous events.
Without a weather radio, you could miss a critical warning message from local emergency authorities that could save your life and those in your family.
Weather Radios should be as common as smoke detectors in homes and businesses statewide to help protect lives and property from natural and technological hazards. There are 22 NOAA Weather Radio transmitters serving Washington reaching more than 96 percent of the state's population. This fact is why the state has adopted NOAA Weather Radio as its "all-hazards" warning system, which is critical to why residents should obtain and use weather radio receivers.
Weather Radios are an important component of all home and business disaster preparedness plans and kits. Preparedness information for your home, neighborhood, and business can be found in our Preparedness section.
Manufacturers offer weather radios both with and without the special alerting features. We recommend a radio with Emergency Alert System (EAS) capability also known as SAME - Specific Area Message Encoder capability so you can receive warning messages instantly. Some models permit you to select which event you wish to be alerted. Look for these features.
The National Weather Service says you can buy receivers at many retail outlets such as electronics, department, sporting goods, and boat and marine accessory stores and their catalogs as well as online. For National Weather Service guidelines, including a list of manufacturers, go here. NOAA Weather Radios range in cost from $25 up to $100 or more, depending on the quality of the receiver and the number of features it has.
We also recommend that you get an "EAS-type" programmable Weather Radio receiver for those who wish to receive site-specific as well as warning message element choices. For instance, some on the coast want only tsunami watches and warnings and nothing else. While, if you live in the Yakima or Puyallup valleys, you might want just volcano warning messages and nothing else.
Weather Radio warning alarm and activation of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), also known as SAME (Specific Area Message Encoder), may occur for the following events:
- High Wind Warning
- Marine Storm Warning
- Flood Warning
- Flash Flood Watch and Warning
- Tidal Flood Warning
- Winter Storm Warning
- Blizzard Warning
- Severe Thunderstorm Watch and Warning
- Tornado Watch and Warning
- Tsunami Watch and Warning
- Volcanic Activity including Lahars
- Enemy Attack
- Nuclear Accident
- AMBER Child Abduction Alerts
- Dam Failures
- Secondary Hazards From Terrorism or Earthquakes
- Other Hazardous Events including Chemical Releases (In cooperation with local emergency management officials)
NOTE: EAS is activated for immediate life-threatening events only. If the event has been publicized in advance, such as a flood or weather watch, EAS is not normally activated unless the threat to life is quite high. EAS is activated for only "major flood" category events and "high impact" major wind events.
Download this brochure to advertise the importance of the NOAA Weather Radio. (PDF)
How to program weather radios
All manufacturers have been asked to provide "how tos" and these are the ones that have provided presentations for the specific models below.
Midland WR 100 http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/sew/WR100/player.html
Reecom R-1630 and 1650 http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/sew/NWR/player.html
Midland WR 300 http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/sew/WR300/player.html
First Alert WX-150 http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/sew/wx150/player.html
First Alert WX-200 http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/sew/wx200/player.html
Additional information about Weather Radios, including where to purchase and local frequencies, is available at the National Weather Service.