It is just days into 2018 and on the east coast of the US, we are battling our first major winter storm. While the local TV and Broadcast Radio stations are giving their bullet points and telling stories from the milk and bread isles, nothing beat grabbing your own radio and doing some severe weather monitoring of your own.
NOAA Weather Radio
I remember the days of the old robotic voices giving the weather and water conditions on NOAA Weather Radio while growing up. The voices these days are getting closer to humanlike in their announcements.
NOAA, or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is a division of the US Department of Commerce. NOAA monitors weather, climate, and changes to the environment. They have a huge network of v
olunteer weather observers, high tech satellites, and are responsible for issuing life saving weather alerts to those living in the United States.
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, or NWR is where we are interested today. Besides finding them on the internet at, you can monitor NOAA Broadcast repeaters from most VHF and Marine radios.
They operate on frequencies:
Unfortunately, not every system is without problems. Where I live, my local NOAA Repeater, KWO35 in New York City, has been removed from service due to failed leasing negotiations!
Besides listening to NOAA on a VHF Radio, Scanner, or Marine Radio, you can buy NOAA Alert Radios for just a few dollars. These radios will silently monitor the local NOAA broadcasts and set off an audible alert for any severe weather notifications.
These devices could be life saving in areas that see frequent dangerous storms such as tornados, severe thunderstorms, or even winter weather
Weather Alert Radios that we recommend:
(Note: the links here are affiliate links. This means that we would earn a small referral fee if you use these links to make a purchase. This is a great way to support Scanner School at no additional cost to you.)
Here are some Weather Alert Radios that I would suggest. Some are crank radios, some work on commercial power.
Our top pick choice, the Kaito KA500 will run off batteries, commercial power, crank, or solar! It will monitor VHF, Radio, and Shortwave. It has a USB port to charge your cell phone and a built in flashlight.
The Kaito KA500 currently has a 4.5 Star review with over 2,000 customer reviews on Amazon. It is available in Black, Blue, Green, Red, or Yellow. I like the Red and Yellow versions because the colors stand out and make them very visible. If you wanted something that would blend in, I suggest going for the black unit.
The Kaito KA500 is a throwback to radios of yesteryear with it's large analog dial display. It not only include FM and AM on this display, but also shortwave as well.
For around $50, these should be in your home and places of business for severe weather monitoring.
SKYWARN is a network of trained weather spotters that report conditions back to the National Weather Service. It is these spotters that help “fine tune” weather data from weather radar and satellites.
While SKYWARN is a National Organization in the United States, there are local chapters that you can join and train with.
Ham Radio & GMRS
One great way that SKYWARN collects information is via a two way radio network or nets. There are sometimes carried over Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) repeaters or GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) Repeaters.
If weather conditions start to really deteriorate the local government might start to open shelters. This is where groups like ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) and RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services) come into play. They work hand in hand with local governments as volunteers to help communications during local disasters or weather events.
In addition, you might find some local groups operating on GMRS. On Long Island, we have a group called “Bridging the Gap”, which supports local communities during and after a disaster, and also work with SKYWARN, ARES, and RACES by offering their assistance to those organizations.
Another great resource to live updates would be your local government's Department of Highways, Office of Emergency Management, Department of Sanitation, or Department of Transportations.
Any part of your local government that is responsible for the safety of travel and keeping the roads clear could be like riding shotgun in a commercial plow.
You can take a look at the Radio Reference Database for frequencies and talk groups that might be active in your area.
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