Weather Radios


Many weather sites and publications recommend the monitoring of NOAA Weather Radio for real-time weather conditions. These broadcasts require a scanner or special radio receiver, but did you know your car radio might already have this feature? Many car receivers will broadcast weather alerts. Check to see if yours has a AM/FM/WB receiver option. Some car stereos, for example, include a 7-channel Weather Band tuner with NOAA weather alert. If your receiver has this weather band feature, set it to WB and choose channel 3.

You can also find (at local retail outlets or online for under $20) for an emergency pocket AM/FM/WB weather alert radio.

The National Weather Service has a Weather Radio FAQ page

You have probably seen signs on interstate highways with local radio station frequencies posted, local stations you can tune to for local weather if you’re traveling. These, however, are commonly regarded as unreliable.

Many smartphones are capable of receiving text messages about severe weather from a government system that sends a blanket warning to mobile devices in the path of a dangerous storm. The NWS uses the Wireless Emergency Alerts system to warn about menacing weather, even if they are nowhere near a television, radio, computer, or storm siren. The system warns people about approaching tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, and other threats. When a warning is issued for a specific county, a brief text message will cause late-model smartphones in that area to vibrate and sound a special tone. Smartphone users should check with their carriers to find out whether service is available and if their devices are able to use it. The system doesn’t use satellite-based GPS to determine a phone’s location; participating carriers just send an alert out from every cell tower in the affected county, and capable smartphones pick it up. (So if a user from Minneapolis travels to Wenatchee, that person would get local warnings for Wenatchee and not Minneapolis.) That feature sets the system apart from other apps that deliver information based on a user’s zip code but don’t automatically update locations when users travel.

Numerous free or low-cost weather apps are available for iPhone, iPad, and Android, some of which include severe weather alerts focused on your location. The Christian Science Monitor a couple years ago reviewed top weather apps, including one that broadcasts NOAA radio reports. It provides 24-hour updates on weather warnings, watches, advisories, and forecasts. Push notifications alert you to storm warnings in your area even if you’re not currently using the application. Another reviewed app offers hyperlocalized weather reports, including minute-by-minute rain forecasts for your exact location.

For dozens of options, try an online search for “best weather app” for alerts warnings.