Emergency Alert System (EAS)
What is EAS?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the NWS, implements the EAS at the federal level. The EAS is the nation’s public warning system requiring broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to provide communications capability for the President to address the American public during a national emergency. FEMA is responsible for a national-level activation of the EAS, tests, and exercises.
The FCC prescribes rules establishing technical standards for the EAS, procedures for EAS participants to follow when EAS is activated and EAS testing protocols. Additionally, the FCC ensures EAS state and local plans conform to FCC EAS rules and regulations. Detailed information on the EAS is documented in the Code of Federal Regulations, 47 CFR Part 11.
The NWS activates the EAS most frequently for imminent and dangerous weather conditions. The NWS uses NWR as its primary means to activate EAS. The EAS is also activated to enable state and local authorities to communicate important non-weather emergency messages, such as AMBER alerts and Civil Emergency Messages. With the exception of national-level activation of the EAS, it is voluntary for EAS participants, such as radio and television stations, to further relay NWS-generated messages.
EAS and NWR use identical digital protocols. The complete list of current EAS Event Codes (also known as NWR-Special Area Message Encoding (SAME)) is provided here. There are some NWR receivers that do not provide SAME capability. In addition, there are some older, SAME-enabled NWR receivers--generally manufactured before 2004--which may not display some of the event codes implemented in 2004; in this case, the newer event codes will be displayed as unknown codes, but the receiver should still play the audio portion of the message. Check your receiver’s manual or the manufacturer’s website for more information. If you do not receive all of the event codes below, you may wish to consider purchasing a newer NWR model.
Note that if new Event Codes are approved for use by the FCC, the NWS will issue a Service Change Notice well in advance of implementing the new codes.