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NWR Background


Map of NOAA Weather Radio stations across Michigan. Source: National Weather Service

NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) provides continuous weather information direct from National Weather Service (NWS) offices. NWR broadcasts NWS warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day. Working with the Federal Communication Commission's Emergency Alert System, NWR is an "all hazards" radio network, making it your single source for comprehensive weather and emergency information. NWR also broadcasts warning and post-event information for all types of hazards -- both natural and environmental.

The NWR network has more than 800 stations, covering all 50 states, adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Pacific Territories and reaching out to over 95% of the U.S. population. Here in Southeast Michigan, broadcasts originate from the NWS White Lake office and are transmitted on two NWR stations. Station KIH-29 broadcasts on a frequency of 162.475 MHz from a transmitter in Clio. This station serves Midland, Bay, Saginaw, Tuscola, Sanilac, Shiawassee, Genesee, and Lapeer counties. The other station, KEC-63 broadcasts on a frequency of 162.55 MHz from a transmitter in Southfield. KEC-63 serves Livingston, Oakland, Macomb, St. Clair, Washtenaw, Wayne, Lenawee, and Monroe counties. KEC-63 began service on June 6, 1972. Fig. 1 shows stations across Michigan. Information on other NWR stations across the Nation can be found here.

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Computer Technology Gives "Voice" to NWR


The National Weather Service first used computer synthesized voice technology over NWR in 1997. Automating NWR transmissions enabled the Weather Service to send out multiple independent warnings over multiple transmitters simultaneously, allowing speedier delivery of severe weather warnings and more lead time for the public. Improvements in voice technology were introduced here at the White Lake office in Spring 2002, including a female voice. Today, "Donna" and "Craig" work 24 hours a day to deliver all hazards information over NWR. A simulation of a tornado warning for the 1953 Flint-Beecher tornado issued over NWR is available here.

What would a tornado warning for the 1953 Flint-Beecher tornado have sounded like using today's technology? Here's "Craig" with the broadcast:

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Where To Buy NOAA Weather Radios


Weather radios come in many sizes, with a variety of functions and costs. Some receivers automatically sound an alarm and turn themselves on if a severe weather warning is broadcast and can be programmed to warn for weather and civil emergency alerts for a specific county. Most NWR receivers are either battery-operated portables or AC-powered desktop models with battery backup. NWR is available at many retail stores that sell electronic appliances, marine supply stores, truck stops, cable shopping networks, mail order catalogs and the Internet. Their costs range from $20 to $80 depending on the model.

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