National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Important Information for NOAA Weather Radio Owners

Have you purchased a new NOAA Weather Radio-All Hazards receiver? 

Are you wondering why you haven’t heard audio alarms ("tone alerts") on your weather radio during the Wednesday tests, even though you have double-checked your programming and other set-ups?

We have a possible answer:

Some manufacturers of weather radios have "turned-off" or "deactivated" the tone-alert feature only for the regular Wednesday tests, broadcast between 11 AM and Noon (known as the Required Weekly Test or "RWT").  The tone-alert feature for the RWT was deactivated in some radios due to customer feedback -- many people did not want to have the Wednesday tests "alert" them with an audio alarm.  You may be able to work with the manufacturer of your weather radio to have the tone-alert feature for the RWT re-activated.  Consult your owner’s manual and contact the company that built your weather radio to see if this is possible.  If you are purchasing a weather radio, you may want to consider contacting the manufacturer before you purchase the radio to determine if they have deactivated the audio tone-alert feature for the tests. 

Additionally, on the first Wednesday of odd-numbered months (Jan, Mar, etc.), we broadcast a Required Monthly Test (RMT) around 850 AM.  (When we do this, we do not send the noon RWT.)  Some manufacturers have deactivated the audio alarm for RMTs, too.

Assuming you have properly programmed your new weather radio to receive audio tone-alerts, you will still hear the audio alerts for tornado warnings, severe thunderstorm warnings, flash flood warnings, and their corresponding watches.  Of course, some weather radios allow you to selectively screen out tone-alerts for particular warnings or watches, should you not be interested in them.  For example, depending on the weather radio, you may be able to program your radio to only tone-activate for tornado warnings for your home county, and not tone-alert for severe thunderstorm warnings or flash flood warnings, or any of the watches.

Please keep in mind that the weather radio signal is a line-of-sight signal; that is, the broadcast quality suffers if hills, buildings, and thick concrete walls are between your radio and the radio station.  If your weather radio signal is weak, consider installing an exterior antenna kit on the roof of the building.  You will find that the signal strength is much improved.