Hello. My name is Gord and this is my new website about and for my Weather Radio Listeners Newsletter. To give you some background, for the past four years or so I have been publishing a newsletter about Weather Radio. This is a North American product brought to us free by both the Canadian and American governments. In Canada it is called Weatheradio Canada and in the US it is called NOAA Weather Radio All Hazard.
Here is how I got into this rather unknown service and how the newsletter came to be. It all started way back in 1988, when I was 14 years old and living with my parents in Toronto Ontario, in the borough of East York. I was serfing the channels, looking for something to listen to on TV. I accidentally found a channel with continuous weather information and it seemed to be coming from the Toronto Weather Office. This was a few months prier to the launch of The Weather Network, formerly known back then as Weather Now on Cable TV.
I found out years later, what I had actually found was a channel which displayed a radar site just north of Toronto in a town called King city Ontario. I became a fan and learned that this was Weatheradio Canada Station XMJ225 in Toronto and it was actually broadcasting on a VHF frequency of 162.400 MHz. This was also before I knew what: VHF, HF or UHF even was. This was new for me and I had no idea that it would lead me to becoming a Ham Radio operator 21 years later.
In 1991, the channel I had monitored went off the air during that summer and I had no other way besides the telephone to get my weather. The other option was The Weather Network but it wasn’t what I wanted. Despite this I would sleep with it on because of the music that would play through the local forecasts, when people weren’t talking.
Fast faorward to 2000, I had discovered that a service called Talking Yello Pages had the weather from Environment Canada on it and I was hooked again. This time, I was determined to eventually get a Weather Radio of my own. I did on February 7th 2001. It was a piece of junk and it paled in comparison to my later receivers. It was an AM/ FM receiver with 3 WX channels. It also took 3 aaa batteries and there was no AC jack for power. To top it off, the reception of my own local WXR was less than bad. I had to put the radio in a certain place in my apartment and I had to extend the telescopic antenna all the way to hear it.
In 2002, I upgraded to a much better desktop model from Radio Shack. It had a tone alert feature and was much more reliable than the previous model. The only problem was that it was a desktop and not a portable unit. I would have liked to have bought something to take with me while traveling.
That came in the form of the ESP2100 from Eton and it was my first SAME radio, before I knew what Specific Area Message Encoding even was. I had purchased it in 2004 and it was alright but something was still not right.
In 2005, I had purchased my first crank radio from Eton, the FR300. That was fine but again, there was no AC power plug for it. All though, I finally purchased an adapter in 2008, which was suitable for this model.
In 2006, I had bought a handheld Marine transceiver from Cobra, the MRHH100VP and I was just happy with it. I was able to weather dx a bit but the only thing was that the audio was distorted but not so much that I couldn’t hear what was being said.
In 2007, I had finally purchased a SAME radio which actually had everything I wanted, which was the Oregon Scientific W-R108, now the W-R602. I loved it but it had a clock and calendar, which required site in order to be able to change said options. I also liked that it had a feature on it where I could set it to change channels on its own, when one channel became too week, while traveling.
My next model was the W-R300 from Midland and this was a perfect unit for me. It had a siren that went off when an alert was issued and it also had an AM/ FM radio which I could use. This is still with me to this day.
My next handheld model was the HH54VP in 2010 and this is exactly what I needed out of a handheld WX radio. It had the siren that went off when a SAME alert is issued like the W-R300 and it also had the Home/ Travel feature of the W-R602. This is the model I take wen I go out of town on long trips and it has been reliable to this day.
Since 2008 I had also purchased a few handheld scanners which also have the Weather Radio on them. My 2 favourites are: BC246T and the BC346XT. I like them because I can not only use them as scanners but I can also use them as Weather Radios and they also have been helpfull to me, when I needed them. I also purchased 2 more desktop WX radios to round out my collection. They are: Midland W-R120 and the Sangean CL-100. The latter is also a great AM and FM radio, with great sound and a very good FM receiver. I listen to my favourite rock station, which is in St Catharines Ontario and it comes in full quieting. Another WX radio I recently purchased is the PRD9W, which is another portable unit, with an AM and FM receiver. It is equally as strong as the CL-100 and it is easy to use. Basically, I’m all set.
Now to get to how it all started; In 2011 I started searching for some sort of newsletter that was all about Weather Radio but the only one I had found up to that point was the NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio Newsletter. I had enquired about it and I was told that there were no mailing lists for it. I had also offered my own idea’s and they were received warmly. I was also recommended to take what I had been thinking and put it into action, possibly creating my own newsletter.
That August I had sent out an email to friends of mine, who are in a Ham Radio group I was and still in, pitching the idea of creating the newsletter. I had some responses but I also did some traveling north of Toronto to do some pitching and more people came forward and said they would like to join.
In November 2011 a friend of mine had put together a webpage for me, which is partly for my Ham radio interests but was also at the time, for the newsletter. Some of the issues are there but all of them are in order and not in attachments, for those who receive the PDF’s through the email list . This website will replace it with all issues here in the coming days and all future issues will appear here too.
In closing, you’d be surprised at how much the weather has played into our lives, much more than what we think of every day. Do we really think about how much we depend on hearing about or talking about the weather, in conversations or as essential information to start our day? Even popular culture has taken it on as plot devices and in songs and this newsletter will also go into that too.
Anyway, for those who are following this for the first time without prior knowledge of the newsletter I hope you enjoy each post.I suggest you follow this website/ blog and sign up for the email list because there will be some cool stuff I intend in putting in one or the other. For example: I wil include CANWARN and SKYWARN training schedules when they are provided to me.
As for the rest of the issues, they will all be put on the site, mostly in an abridged version. The first 4 issues will be here as they were published but the rest will be published here as highlights of each issue. For example: each issue has:, a weekly and monthly report of the SAME and 1050 HZ tone test reports, as well as a watchdog report and a CANWARN and SKYWARN Report. As of now, most of these have been separated into their own blog posts. So, joining the mailing list and following this blog are highly Recommended, so you can get the full affect of the newsletter. There are 19 issues so far and the first 4 are here, as I said and the rest will be published here during August, to mark the 20th issues release. Hopefully you enjoy this as much as I have had fun putting all of this together. In fact, here is the first issue of the newletter below.
WEATHER RADIO LISTENERS NEWSLETTER ISSUE ONE
Authored and Written by Gord Maybee,VA3WXA
Edited by Gord Maybee, George Davis, Denis Paquette and Dennis T. Paganin.
AN INTRODUCTION TO WEATHERADIO IN CANADA AND WEATHER RADIO
Welcome to the first issue of the Weather Radio Listeners Newsletter. In this newsletter
we will discuss Weatheradio Canada and all aspects of this service, as well as provide
general updates as necessary in future issues.
This periodical is designed for both new and seasoned listeners alike. We will discuss
from time to time, subjects such as NOAA (All Hazards Weather Radio), volunteer
programs such as Canwarn and Skywarn; as well as the hobbies using Amateur or
Hamradio. We will also discuss the very important role that Weather Radio plays in
society to inform the general public of weather hazards, potential disasters, storms, and
From time to time, we will answer frequently asked questions and also explain some of
the exciting technology behind this service.
Also to be included are individual stories of how Weather Radio’shas helped to save both
lives and property. Weather Radios can be purchased at various electronics stores that
specialize in radios and other equipment such as:
BML Communications at http://www.bml.ca/,
Durham Radio at http://www.durhamradio.com/,
Radio World at http://www.radioworld.ca/,
Efston Science at http://www.escience.ca/,
Burnaby Radio at http://www.burnabyradio.com/,
Weather Radio Store at http://www.Weatherradiostore.com/,
and many more retailers throughout North America.
When planning to purchase your first Weather Radio, it is highly recommended to look
for the Public Alert identification logo. Note: At the end of the newsletter there will be a
list of current recommended models available in Canada.
SPECIFIC AREA MESSAGE ENCODING
Weather Radio Canada can be heard on such receivers as: VHF commercial transceivers,
Scanners, citizen band radios, GMRS radios, marine transceivers when generally
purchased in North America.
Also, most modern amateur or ham radio transceivers with wide receive range on VHF;
including most emergency crank radios also have the ability to hear the 7 weather
channels. The continuous marine broadcasts are available on most modern amateur
transceivers, CB radios with weather band, scanners, some GMRS radios, and marine
transceivers.Speaking from experience, we would recommend purchasing a standalone weather alert
receiver. There are many good models available, both in desktop and handheld versions.
Basic Weather Alert Receivers use the 1050 Hz. tone alert to warn people of short fuse
warnings such as: severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings. Since 2002,
they have been phased out, in favour of the latest generation of weather alert receivers
that now feature specific codes known as “Specific Area Message Encoding”, or SAME.
This allows you to program your radio to receive weather watches and warnings for your
specific area, and to avoid being alerted to watches and warnings that are outside your
locality. In the United States, these codes are referred to as SAME CODES or FIPS
CODES, in Canada they are referred to as CLC, or Canadian Location Codes. For
example: the City of Toronto’s CLC CODE is 043100. Your radio may react differently to
each watch or warning situation. For example: SAME weather radios made by Midland
make different sounds depending on whether the message issued is a watch, warning or
My weather radio receiver has Specific Area Message Encoding! Why does my radio give
me the alert audibly for some events, but not others?
Your radio may have the feature called Defeat Siren, or Event Blocking. Another reason
for this is that it may have been programmed at the factory to only give the audio for
watches and warnings. For radios with the Defeat Siren option, you can go through the
alerts and unblock them if you like; refer to the owner’s manual for instructions on how
to do this.
SAME is a method of identifying a local area to which an alert message applies. The
system uses a digital data stream containing information about a specific event that is to
be expected, including timing, duration, and location. Identification codes for a specific
event and location in the broadcast are inserted by an encoder at the transmitter site,
and sent over the air waves.
This broadcast will be decoded by SAME capable models of receivers within the area.
The data stream can be heard as a brief tone, or a static burst. This is in accordance with
Federal Information Processing Standard, or FIPS. In 1988 it was introduced to NOAA
Weatheradio and to Weatheradio Canada around 2006. In 2007 its implementation was
complete. Despite this, not all SAME event codes are used by Weather Radio at this time.
However, all government departments have been invited to adopt the SAME event and
CLC codes to deliver non-weather alerts through Weatheradio Canada’s network, to
make it an “all hazards notification system”. They are also working with Industry Canada,
and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada to create a single
comprehensive service for weather and other emergency information, such as
evacuation messages and Amber alerts. This makes SAME the first step in its
development, building on the current Weatheradio Canada service.
For a complete list of all 80 event codes, you can go to the Weatheradio Canada webpage
at http://www.ec.gc.ca/weatheradio. You can also go to the NOAA Weather Radio
webpage at http://www.weather.gov/nwr. They both use the SAME codes and the tonealert and you can buy a weather radio in the U.S. and it will work in Canada and the
United States and the same model of receiver may also be sold in Canada.
To get an idea of what Weather radio warnings and alarms sound like, visit YouTube at
http://www.youtube.com/ and type in “same weather alert”. To get more information on
SAME, use your favourite search engine and you will find a large number of interesting
WEATHERADIO CANADA WATCHDOG
I will begin this topic with a question; what happens when the Weatheradio Canada
system fails to operate? Last year a new alert message was installed, which has been
heard on the broadcast when the information feed has been interrupted and there hasn’t
been any new data for more than 3 hours. The system now sends out an automatic alert
to all public alert receivers and a voice message says: “we are currently experiencing
technical difficulties with our broadcast. We will return to normal as soon as possible.
We are sorry for the interruption.” The message is repeated in English and French until
the system is restored.
COMMENTS FROM A DEDICATED LISTENER, THE AUTHOR HIMSELF
Hello, my name is Gord and I live in Toronto, Ontario. I have been a dedicated weather
radio Canada listener from 1988 to the fall of 1991 using Cable TV. Since 2001 up to
present day, I use a number of various weather radios I have purchased. On a number of
occasions I had personally called Environment Canada when noticeable errors had
occurred during the broadcast cycle, that should not have been transmitted on the local
or surrounding machines. One of the operators from Environment Canada, gave me the
nick name the “Old Reliable” because I am always reporting problems when they appear.
In one example, there was a system outage on Tuesday July 5th, 2011. My weather radios
had alerted me at around 1:30 P.M! I hadn’t been listening since 10 A.M, so I wasn’t aware
that there was a potential technical problem. When I heard the alarms, I immediately
emailed Peter Staples (the programmer of the Weatheradio Canada transmitters in
Ontario), as well as Denis Paquette (the National Manager of Weatheradio Canada) about
the problem. Initially, I thought it was just a Toronto issue, but after I emailed them a
note, I listened to a few other Canadian Weather Radio stations and noticed that they had
My next step was to call the various ATADS (automated telephone answering device) to
get weather information throughout the province. I listened for the hourly observations,
and they all said “weather conditions at 10:00 A.M.” I sent Denis another email updating
him on my further investigation, and after 3:00 P.M, the Weatheradio Canada system was
fully restored all across the province. A week later, I received an unexpected email from
Denis thanking me for my help.
WEATHERADIO CANADA AS A LIFE SAVER
Described below is a good example on how Weatheradio Canada can be a life saver.
On Tuesday August 11, 2009, I had ventured out and as I was approaching my
destination it started to rain. I was walking around at the time; trying to find the site I was
looking for, when my weather radio alerted me to a severe thunderstorm warning.
Needless to say I was desperately trying to find some shelter; preferably at my finallocation. Luckily, somebody had helped me out. I mentioned to the person, that my
weather radio had gone into alarm, but the individual was unfamiliar with what I was
talking about, and it would have taken much too long for me to explain.
This particular incident and more inspired the creation of the newsletter and hopefully
there is a positive response from Weatheradio Canada’s listeners.
This was also inspired by our American counterparts having their own NOAA Weather
Radio All Hazard Newsletter. It is only available on the NOAA Weather Radio webpage
and updated seasonally, and there is no mailing list for people who would like to read it.
You can find the current issue at http://www.weather.gov/nwr/news.htm. With this new
newsletter we hope to make it much more interesting, educational and accessible to the
listeners. Note: There is currently a Yahoo Chatgroup, at
http://tech.Groups.yahoo.com/group/weatheradio/, or Emergency Associations such as
Wxscan, Canwarn, or Skywarn, just to name a few.
CURRENT MODELS OF WEATHER RADIO RECEIVERS
There are many reliable manufacturers and retailers of Weather Radios sold in Canada
and the USA. Below is a list of the recommended models currently for sale. Note: this is a
convenience, not an endorsement. Environment Canada doesn’t recommend any specific
model or manufacturer.
Midland Radio Corporation http://www.Midlandradio.com W-r300, W-r100B, W-r120,
HH54VP, HH54VP2, ER102, and W-r11 are all manufactured by Midland and sold in
Oregon Scientific http://www2oregonscientific.com W-r601, and W-r602 are currently sold
Uniden Corporation http://www.Uniden.com BC72XLT, BC95XLT, BC346XT, BCT15X,
BCD996XT, Homepatrol, and BCD396XT are currently sold in Canada.
Sangean USA http://www.Sangean.com CL100, DT400, and PRD9W are manufactured by
Sangean and currently sold in Canada.