National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Important Tone Alert Information


Have you purchased a new NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards receiver unit within the past few months? 

Are you wondering why you haven’t heard any "tone-alerts" on your weather radio, even though you have double-checked your programming and other set-ups?

We have an answer - here it is:

Some manufacturers of weather radios have "turned-off", or "de-activated" the tone-alert feature only for our regular Wednesday tests around the noon hour [known as the Required Weekly Test (RWT)].  The tone-alert feature for the RWT was de-activated due to customer complaints - many people didn’t want to have the Wednesday tests "alert" them.  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.  As another option, you may want to consider contacting the manufacturer before you purchase the weather radio to determine if they have de-activated the tone-alert feature for RWTs.

Assuming you have properly programmed your new weather radio to receive tone-alerts, you will still hear the tone-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.

On the first  Wednesday of an odd-numbered month (Jan, Mar, etc.), we issue a Required Monthly Test (RMT) around 850 am on the Madison signal (162.550), and the Milwaukee signal (162.400).  When we do this...we do not send the noon RWT for these two signals.

We do not send a RMT on the Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Racine, Janesville, and Baraboo/Dells signals.  We send only the RWT on these signals each Wednesday around the noon hour.  

Also, some manufacturers have de-activated the "tone-alert" for RMTs.  Therefore, if you were listening to the Madison or Milwaukee signal you may not hear the tone-alert for a RMT.

We tone-alert our weather radios for short-fuse watches and warnings for these events....tornado, severe thunderstorm, and flash floods.  Why do we tone-alert for these events? - because you don’t have much time to react and seek sturdy shelter. 

We do not tone-alert our weather radio signals for winter storms, dense fog, heat, or widespread high winds, since these are considered long-fuse events - in which you have plenty of time to find out about advisories, watches and warnings on TV, radio, and weather radios.

Keep in mind that the weather radio signal is a line-of-sight signal, that is, it can’t bore holes through hills, buildings, and thick concrete walls.  If your weather radio signal is weak, please consider installing an exterior antenna kit on the roof of your building, run the cable into your building, and connect it to your radio.  You will find that the signal strength is much improved, especially if you like to keep your weather radio in your basement.