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U.S. Ex-Islers: Get A Weather Radio!

Natural Disasters Emergencies Weather Radio Severe Weather warnings

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#1 Vapor Trails

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 10:06 AM

This is a VERY important reminder for those folks who live in the U.S. Also-don't assume that because you live in an area that gets few tornadoes, you need not worry. That's foolish. If you don't have a weather radio-GET ONE. NOW. You just never know when severe weather will hit your area. Here's my first post from Sparky's thread.

Quote

I'm not surprised. This is the beginning of tornado season in the U.S., and it's gotten off to a violent start. You need several ingredients for tornadic thunderstorms-

1)Two air masses that differ vastly in temperature and humidity.

2) A fast-moving jet stream above.

3) Winds blowing in different directions at different altitudes.

The reason spring is such an apt time for tornadoes in the U.S. is due to the contrasts in warm and cold air masses, as I indicated above. In the middle of the U.S., topography (the Rocky Mountains) is an added ingredient for creating deadly tornadoes-in particular, F3s F4s and the deadliest-F5s, which contain winds of up to 318 mph. The F-scale was created by Dr. T. Theodore Fujita. The instability that results from the cold and warm air masses colliding creates violent supercell thunderstorms. The winds going at different speeds in the atmosphere create a twist, which cause the thunderclouds to spin. The jet stream acts as a bottle opener, allowing the rising moist warm air that feeds the thunderclouds to rise explosively. Combine all that, and you get a tornado.

With the Rocky Mountains, they add a further bit of imbalance. Cold air usually goes under warm air, causing it to rise. When cold dry air comes off of the Rocky Mountains, it can sometimes come off at such a speed that when it collides with the warm air, part of the cold air mass goes over a section of the warm air, creating an even greater imbalance. When the jet stream removes this cap, the results are even more explosive, leading to large tornado outbreaks and some monster tornadoes that can be up to 2 miles wide.

For those folks who live in Tornado Alley, make sure you have a weather radio. I own one-I've owned them for over 30 years. Last summer, I had a tornado-warned thundercloud go right over my house!! :eek3: It was Doppler-radar indicated, but it didn't drop any funnels. It did put out a LOT of lightning, though. In the past, tornadoes were very rare in my area, but in recent years, I've been noticing an increasing number of them. And they are not just increasing in number-they are also getting more ferocious. Last summer, twin tornadoes struck Brooklyn, New York, causing extensive damage. Tornadic winds were determined by the National Weather Serice to be around 150 mph!! :eek: :egads:  :crazy:

Also:

Quote

See some incredible images and video on this thread in the Stormtrack Forum, which I'm a part of.

Here's a bit from an email I sent to a friend:

Quote

For the first time last summer-and I KNEW this was
going to happen eventually-I had a tornado-warned storm go right over
my house!! Eeeep!! Doppler radar indicated strong rotation inside
the parent thunderstorm, hence the tornado warning. It put out
continuous, WICKED lightning and the dark clouds were churning, but no
funnel clouds, fortunately. That summer, Brooklyn NY, a city just
southeast of me, was struck by twin tornadoes, with winds of 150 mph.
They did extensive damage.

The summer before that, I DID see a funnel cloud not far from my home.
It was the most humid day I have EVER felt in my life-summers around
here are hot and sticky. A thunderstorm EXPLODED into being over my
house. The cloud was developing rapidly. You could see dark fingers of
moisture feed from the seemingly clear air into the parent
thundercloud. A little off to the northeast, I saw a very
small, weak funnel twist from the cloud; it only lasted a few seconds.
But I knew it for what it was. I've been a severe weather buff for
years (a fantasy of mine would be to go storm chasing), and I've seen
PLENTY of tornado video. And later that day, there were tornado
warnings northeast of me. That was the first funnel cloud I'd seen in
my life.

Tornadoes around here used to be rare, but in recent years. we've had
one or two every year, and they seem to be increasing-and not just in
number, but ferocity. They are no longer just F0s or F1s (twister
intensity; the F is for the Fujita scale; read up on it-fascinating
stuff). Those are relatively weak tubes. But they are getting stronger
and more dangerous. 150 mph is around an F3, I think. That's what
Brooklyn got.

Quote

By the way-do you have a weather radio? If not, I'd SERIOUSLY consider
investing in one. They could save your life one day. I've used weather
radios for over 30 years-and all of them from Radio Shack. There are
250(?) National Weather Service radio stations that broadcast around
the U.S. Go onto the Weather Underground site and type in your
city/zip. On there, you can hear a broadcast from your local NWS radio
station. Years ago, they used to be taped recordings of forecasts,
looped every hour. Now, they are digitized voices. Weather radios come with alarms
that you can set so that you can be
warned of approaching dangerous weather.

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NWS

Quote

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. NWR broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Working with the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) Emergency Alert System , NWR is an "All Hazards" radio network, making it your single source for comprehensive weather and emergency information. In conjunction with Federal, State, and Local Emergency Managers and other public officials, NWR also broadcasts warning and post-event information for all types of hazards – including natural (such as earthquakes or avalanches), environmental (such as chemical releases or oil spills), and public safety (such as AMBER alerts or 911 Telephone outages).

Edited by Analog Kid, 18 April 2011 - 10:08 AM.

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Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#2 Themis

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 05:53 PM

I could click and google but since you're so experienced, I'll just ask you.  Do you just leave those radios on all the time?  Are they broadcasting anything if there isn't severe weather?  I'm not sure I want weather reports broadcasting continuously while I'm trying to sleep but obviously something waking me up would be useful.  

Otherwise if I'm at home and awake, I'll probably have tv on and the local tv stations are broadcasting almost house by house storm tracking.  (Gods, I wish they'd figure out how to localize this stuff.   While I'm certainly sympathetic if a tornado hits southern Kentucky, I'm in Nashville and don't really need to see the path of each raindrop if it's not headed toward me.)   Weather warnings are good reasons to watch the local stations (and listen to local radio rather than satellite) - you don't get this stuff from watching tv on line.  Anyway, I've got no lack of weather info when I'm awake.  I have battery radios and a battery tv should I decide to hide out in the basement bathroom.  But the bedroom's on the upper level...
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#3 Vapor Trails

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 06:32 PM

View PostThemis, on 18 April 2011 - 05:53 PM, said:

I could click and google but since you're so experienced, I'll just ask you.  Do you just leave those radios on all the time?  Are they broadcasting anything if there isn't severe weather?  I'm not sure I want weather reports broadcasting continuously while I'm trying to sleep but obviously something waking me up would be useful.

Yes, they do broadcast regular weather forcasts. To find out what they sound like, look up your town on this site: Weather Underground. On your town's web page, you'll see a radar, 5 and 10 day forcasts, and there should also be something there dealing with a National Weather Service radio broadcast. Click on that to hear the audio. As I said in my friend's email: they are synthesized voices. Many years ago, they used to be actual taped recordings of meteorologists that were looped every hour, 24 hours a day. They stopped that, and now all the NWS NOAA radio stations are using the same computerized voices. (They actually sound pretty darn close to a real person-the voices are getting much better. :cool: ) Since the same forecasts are given on a typical day, you'll hear the following, typically: current conditions, long range forecast, 24-to-48 hour forecasts, and marine reports, if you live near a large body of water.

Weather radios can be set to wake you up, in the event of a severe weather emergency-such as a tornado outbreak. Every morning, as I get up to go to work, I'll be checking the forecast on Weather Underground and the Weather Channel. In particular, I pay attention if I know there is going to be a severe weather event in my area. As I said, I am also a member of the Stormtrack board.

Weather radios are particularly important because they run off of battery power. This way, if your power goes out, you'll still have the weather radio to wake you up in the event of an emergency.

Later on, I'll see about posting pics of my weather radio. I've been buying weather radios at Radio Shack for over 35 years-yes, I've been fascinated with severe weather since I was a kid.

I HIGHLY recommend you bookmark Weather Underground. It's a GREAT site, and you can check weather forecasts all over the planet-including Antarctica! :cool: I have the Vostok station bookmarked, because I always want to see how far it dips below -100 degrees during the winter-time. :cool:
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Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#4 Vapor Trails

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 07:07 PM

Here's a pic of my weather radio. I've had this particular model for over 13 years, I think-it's been long since discontinued by Radio Shack. But it still serves its primary purpose. The bottom switch has 3 settings. The WX setting is when the radio is set for regular broadcasts when I turn it on. ALERT is the alarm setting, where the radio will let out an alarm if there is severe weather approaching. The volume dial on the right is also set to the "ON" position. The "LOCK" setting is similar to the alert setting-except that the alarm will continue to go off until you set it to the WX setting to hear the weather warning. Once more, for both alarms to work, the dial must have the radio set to the "ON" position. It uses 3 AA batteries. The dial above it is the channel indicator. The little "TEST" button is to test the alarm.

Weather radios typically broadcast on the high FM band, at the following frequencies: 162.40 mhz, 162.475 mhz, 162.50 mhz and 162.55 mhz.

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Posted Image

Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#5 Vapor Trails

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 04:37 PM

Some amazing video from one of the North Carolina tornados. WARNING: some strong language here.


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Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#6 RommieSG

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 05:02 PM

I have lived in my town for all 31 years of my life, and we have never been hit with a Tornado. The worst weather I can recall in recent memory, is the fallout from the Tsunami's hitting Japan, and hitting us with rain and severe winds.
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#7 Vapor Trails

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 06:09 PM

View PostRommieSG, on 19 April 2011 - 05:02 PM, said:

I have lived in my town for all 31 years of my life, and we have never been hit with a Tornado. The worst weather I can recall in recent memory, is the fallout from the Tsunami's hitting Japan, and hitting us with rain and severe winds.

It's still a good thing to own one of these weather radios-and not just because of tornadoes. But to each his or her own. :eh:
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Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#8 Shoshana

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 06:29 PM

I have a Midland 300 NOAA/Public alert radio. It's 'on' all the time but not actually making any noise. I programmed it to sound an alarm (and flash an external light) for various warnings.

I set it so it only goes off for warnings (severe thunderstorm, tornado, flash flood, flood, wildfire etc) - not for watches or advisories or weekly tests or that sort of thing. That's one reason I got a new radio - the old one went off all the time! I just want to know if something is happening, not if it's a possibility that something will happen. It will still show an LED for watches and advisories but it doesn't set off the alarm.

The new radios are best at actually warning you for your area - it used to be I'd get warnings for my county and surrounding counties but now it's more specific.




I can push a button to actually hear current NOAA broadcast but I don't unless the warning buzzer and light go off. It's also an am/fm radio w a battery backup.

Edited by Shoshana, 29 April 2011 - 06:32 PM.


#9 Vapor Trails

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 09:48 PM

Shoshana,

I'm thinking about buying another weather radio. The one above has just begun to have the problem of speaker crackle/fade-out when you turn the dial. And of course, I'm going with Radio Shack again. The new ones look interesting. If I get one, I'll post a pic here.
Posted Image

Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#10 Shoshana

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 11:28 PM

View PostAnalog Kid, on 29 April 2011 - 09:48 PM, said:

Shoshana,

I'm thinking about buying another weather radio. The one above has just begun to have the problem of speaker crackle/fade-out when you turn the dial. And of course, I'm going with Radio Shack again. The new ones look interesting. If I get one, I'll post a pic here.

I quit buying RS ones for that very reason. I had 2 get to the point where you couldn't understand what was being said. I have had my current one for abt 3 years.

ETA:

RS shows the WR300 I have for $49 but is currently out of stock. It's a good price.

Edited by Shoshana, 29 April 2011 - 11:38 PM.


#11 Captain Jack

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 04:58 AM

I've been meaning to get one, actually.  That and some walkie-talkies, extra batteries, LED lanterns, and water.  LED lanterns have a long battery life which I like.  Cool thread, AK. :)

Edit, almost forgot to mention.  Friday morning, it snowed in my area.  SNOWED!  and then by noon, it was in the mid 60's and sunny.  :crazy:

Edited by Captain Jack, 30 April 2011 - 04:59 AM.

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#12 Vapor Trails

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:40 AM

It's  beautiful morning here in Ramsey, New Jersey-where I'm doing a charter run today. I'm having breakfast at a nearby Starbuck's. It's pretty chilly, though-only 52 degrees. But it's supposed to go to the the mid 60s.

Shoshana-so, this one you're showing me is a plug-in? I'm actually looking for a portrable, like the one above. That's the type I've been using for the past 35 years. I'm looking at this one:

RadioShack® 7-Channel Handheld Weather Radio with SAME

CJ-I'm not surprised. Spring and fall are the transitional seasons-and the ones I prefer, actually. I HATE the summers and winters in my area. Summers are too damn hot and humid, and winters are too damn cold.  :headshake:
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Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#13 Vapor Trails

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:46 AM

View PostShoshana, on 29 April 2011 - 11:28 PM, said:

View PostAnalog Kid, on 29 April 2011 - 09:48 PM, said:

Shoshana,

I'm thinking about buying another weather radio. The one above has just begun to have the problem of speaker crackle/fade-out when you turn the dial. And of course, I'm going with Radio Shack again. The new ones look interesting. If I get one, I'll post a pic here.

I quit buying RS ones for that very reason. I had 2 get to the point where you couldn't understand what was being said. I have had my current one for abt 3 years.

Well, mine has been going strong for over a decade, so such things are to be expected, after a while. As I said-I've been using Radio Shack weather radios for over 35 years, and I've had no problems. :cool:
Posted Image

Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#14 Hambil

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:57 AM

One of the many things that contributed to the death-toll in this wave of storms was severe lightning and winds that proceeded the actual tornadoes, causing power outages.

Quote

High winds associated with the storm had already caused power outages in several areas of the tornado zone as tree limbs snapped and power lines fell. Henson said he heard anecdotally that some NOAA weather radio transmitters were down as well, adding to the confusion.
(link)

This does not mean a weather radio is a bad idea, it's a great idea. But the failure of parts of the warning system is one thing that I am sure will be looked at more closely as we begin to pick up after this disaster.

Edited by Hambil, 30 April 2011 - 08:59 AM.


#15 Vapor Trails

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 09:41 AM

View PostHambil, on 30 April 2011 - 08:57 AM, said:

One of the many things that contributed to the death-toll in this wave of storms was severe lightning and winds that proceeded the actual tornadoes, causing power outages.

Quote

High winds associated with the storm had already caused power outages in several areas of the tornado zone as tree limbs snapped and power lines fell. Henson said he heard anecdotally that some NOAA weather radio transmitters were down as well, adding to the confusion.
(link)

This does not mean a weather radio is a bad idea, it's a great idea. But the failure of parts of the warning system is one thing that I am sure will be looked at more closely as we begin to pick up after this disaster.

Very true. One things that needs to be looked at is a back-up system, just in case.

Also-for those who have netbooks (boy, what an invention!) or laptops, I'm also starting to think about the possibility of some sort of back-up wi-fi system, so that those with laptops/netbooks can check sites like The Weather Channnel, Stormtrack or Weather Underground to follow up on severe weather. I'm not sure how something like this could be implemented-I'm not a tech-head. Basically-if you have your laptop/netbook charged, you could check these sites, as well as contact people on the outside-along with your cell phone.

Just some idle thoughts...

Edited by Analog Kid, 30 April 2011 - 09:42 AM.

Posted Image

Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#16 Shoshana

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 11:32 PM

We keep our routers on an UPS so we can still use them for a little while if we need to. But we have both the weather radio and a portable radio too for emergencies.

#17 Vapor Trails

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 05:25 PM

Okay-I'm at Starbuck's in Hoboken. I stopped by a nearby Radio Shack and took a look at the weather radio I'm interested in getting. It looks pretty cool-though they didn't have any spare batteries around to test it. I'm giving it very serious consideration, though...it's a good thing I've been doing weekend work so I'll have a little extra money on hand.

BTW, to Rommie...weather radios have expanded their usage; they are no longer just for severe weather warnings. They now cover things like earthquakes, volcanoes, civil defense...a host of stuff. I like the LED warnings this new one gives; that makes it immediate, so you can read what it is.

Anyway, once I get it, I plan to stop by this thread and give you folks a review. :cool:
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Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#18 Vapor Trails

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 09:58 AM

It looks like I might pick up this thing today. More later.
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Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#19 Vapor Trails

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 11:57 AM

Okay, I finally picked up my new weather radio from Radio Shack, which you
see pictured below. It cost me $50. This thing is a LOT different from the older ones that
I'm used to.  For starters, there's a pretty complex little computer built
into it. It really makes my older weather radios INCREDIBLY old-fashioned by
comparison. The reason for this is that this isn't meant to just be a
weather alert radio. It is meant to alert you to all sorts of hazards, which
is why you see the "Public Alert" feature, located on the upper right side
of the radio.

What kind of warnings does this cover? A BUNCH.

avalanche
blizzard
biological & chemical
civil danger
coastal flood
dust storm
emergency action notification
food contamination
earthquake
freeze (cold weather)
fire
flash flood
flood
hazardous materials
high wind
civil emergency
tropical storm
tsunami
hurricane
immediate evacuation
boil water warning
law enforcement warning
dam break warning
contagious disease warning
nuclear power plant warning
radiological hazard warning
flash freeze
severe thunderstorm
shelter-in-place warning
special marine warning
tornado warning
wild fire warning
iceberg warning
industrial fire warning
landslide warning
volcano warning
winter storm warning

There are also advisories:

child abduction emergency
national audible test
required monthly test.
911 outage emergency
transmitter carrier off
transmitter primary on
severe weather statement
special weather statement
unrecognized emergency
unrecognized statement
administrative message
practice/demo
national information center
national periodic test
power outage advisory
required weekly test
transmitter back-up on
transmitter carrier on
flash flood statement
flood statement
hurricane statement

WHEW! That is A LOT.  And you can set which one of these you want to hear.
I've basically left them all on. :p

A really cool thing this weather radio has is a thermometer, which you can
set to either Fahrenheit or Celsius. It has a clock and an alarm. The LCD display gets backlit for a brief period if you press any of the buttons.

It uses 3 AA batteries, but it can also use rechargeable  batteries. There
is an LED indicator, just below the menu button that will indicate whether
it is charged or not. It uses SAME technology. What does that mean? From the
side of the box:

Quote

SAME, which stands for Specific Area Message Encoding, is a technology that
allows you to customize the radio for your specific location. That way you
will only hear alerts that affect you, and won't be bothered by those that
don't. For example, if you live in the southern half of your state, and a
tornado develops miles away from you in the northern half, you won't be
woken up in the middle of the night for no reason. And, while most radios
make you locate the specific county FIPS codes, this one has them all built
in. All you have to do is simply choose your county, and if desired, the
counties around you, from a list.

From the instruction manual:

Quote

About the FIPS code

For the purpose of broadcasting weather information,  the NWS has divided
the United States into regions by state and county. A 6-digit FIPS code is
used to identify each county, parish or part of a county. For example, the
code for Tarrant County Texas is 048439. The first digit in an FIPS code
identifies a portion of Tarrant County. The next two digits identify the
state, and the last three digits identify the county or parish. Your alert
radio can receive all SAME alert signals broadcast within about a 50-mile
radius of where you program it. To receive SAME alerts and broadcasts about
weather occurring only in particular counties within that area, you can
program up to 10 FIPS codes into the alert radio's memory.

Pretty cool! This radio comes with a belt clip that you can pop into the
back of it. The volume on this radio at its lowest is still pretty loud, but
that's the way it should be, since this is an alert radio. My older one
isn't like that, but anyway, I've always set it to alert mode, in the event
of severe weather. Though, with this one-assuming you didn't turn off any of
the alerts-the moment you turn it on, the radio will receive any alerts
transmitted to it.

Aside from being used around the house, this would be an important radio for
me to take out, particularly if I go on charter runs in the large bus. Now
that we are in spring, you never know if the kids I take out to baseball and
track meets will have to deal with severe weather like thunderstorms-or God
forbid, tornadic thunderstorms.

Once I go on the road with it, I'll add to this review. :cool:

Attached Files


Edited by Analog Kid, 04 May 2011 - 12:09 PM.

Posted Image

Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#20 Shoshana

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 04:09 PM

Looks like a good one :) Mine is much bigger since it's a desktop model but yours will be convenient for taking with you.

Mine has zillions of alerts for warnings, watches,advisories and tests.

For anyone interested here is the owner's manual to mine. It's pdf but I linked it via the Google viewer.

In it you can see the 3 pages of stuff it will alert for plus I think you can add 5 more. What, I can't imagine.

The only one you can't silence is the tornado warning. Which is cool. It's why I bought the radio anyway.

I turned off most of the alerts. All the tests, the advisories, the watches are off and the warnings for the ones that aren't going to happen (or we will have days worth of hysterical tv people telling us about it in advance) at our house. Like the landslide, volcano, blizzard, avalanche, coastal stuff, dam break, earthquake, freeze, hurricane, iceberg!, tsunami .... you get the idea. But it's nice having some of the civil emergency warnings - things I wouldn't know about if the radio and tv are off.





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