WEATHER RADIO LISTENERS NEWSLETTER ISSUE 3 – MAY 04, 2012
Welcome all to the third issue of the Weather Radio Listeners Newsletter. In this month’s newsletter we have a number of exciting sections, beginning with an article on other frequencies where you can listen to weather information, Programming of Weather Radios, introductions to more of our members, weather radio news and much more. Please read on.
As we discussed in the last issue, there are seven designated VHF channels (specific frequencies) for Weatheradio Canada and NOAA Weather Radio. We also talked about the different channel allocations.
Most people are unaware that there are more weather channels available worldwide, which you can listen to while visiting a particular country, however you should consult the internet for specific frequency listings and what type of receiver may be required.
Specifically in North America, if you have a newer scanner, marine VHF radio, or a modern VHF/UHF ham radio transceiver, they now come with ten preprogrammed weather channels. You may not be aware that there are three extra channels used by the Canadian Coastguard and at one time by NOAA.
Specifically, WX channel #8 at 161.650 MHz and WX channel #9 at 161.775 MHz are used by the Coastguard in Canada for their continuous marine broadcast services. They also use some of the conventional Weatheradio Canada frequencies in British Columbia. WX channel #10 at 163.275 MHz used to be used by NOAA years ago but it is now inactive. You can also hear the continuous marine broadcasts on your marine radio on Channel #21B at 161.650 MHz, Channel #83B at 161.775 MHz, Channel #25B at 161.850 MHz and Channel #28B at 162.000 MHz.
You can also hear aviation weather reports on the VHF air band. These frequencies are anywhere from 118 to 137 MHz. They are referred to as ATIS or Automatic Terminal Information Service frequencies, Secondary Automatic Terminal Information Service or AUOS Automated Observation Service frequencies.
If you want more information on where to hear the continuous marine broadcasts and the ATIS or AUOS frequencies, visit http://www.dxinfocentre.com .
In the last issue of the newsletter we touched on data loading issues with one of the weather radio transmitters and the switch from FTP (file transfer protocol) to the older method known as telephone dial-up. As we promised here is a basic explanation of what loading or data loading is, and what the difference is between FTP and dial-up.
Loading in Weatheradio is the transferring of audio files (forecasts, warnings, and hourly conditions) from the main system located here in Toronto, to the various remote systems that broadcast the actual content. Basically, the loading is either done by telephone dial-up or FTP.
Telephone Dial-up Connection is based upon an analogue type of data transfer. Think of it as hearing someone tells you the forecast and then you repeat it. The dialer machine hear telephones the remote system and signals it to record. Then it plays the message while the remote system is recording it. Because of this method, any noise on the lines would be transferred to the remote machine and then reproduced when played out over the Weatheradio
The network method is digital, meaning that the messages are converted into a binary file, and then transferred over the network (via FTP) to the site, which then is able to play back the file over the air. In this method, there will be no added noise or anything else.
In addition to the quality of the recorded file being better by FTP than dial-up, it also loads the remote system at much faster speeds than dial-up. In dial-up, it takes as long as the message plays: a 5 minute message takes 5 minutes to transfer. By FTP, the same message may take only 10 to 15 seconds to transfer with no loss of quality. Dial-up connections may take quite a while to load several messages, and is much slower.Despite the advantages of the FTP transfer, there are still a lot of remote systems that don’t have access to high- speed internet needed for efficient loading. Some remote systems are only accessible via phone lines. And just like telephone service outages (high winds knocking down wires, poles, etc.) there can be network outages as well.
Peter Staples, Weather Disceminationest for Ontario. Additional coments from the author.
To give you an idea of what it sounds like, with dial-up there are short breaks between the information bins. A soft click would signify new information is about to be heard on a Weatheradio Canada transmitter. With FTP, the information comes at you one right after the other. The only break in the broadcast is if there are no warnings or watches in affect at the time.
Your typical Weatheradio Canada broadcast is as follows: the seven day local forecast, the two day forecast for surrounding regions, the inland weather roundup, marine forecast for lakes and rivers surrounding the listening area and the marine weather roundup punctuated by the phrase “current marine reports.” this information is always in English and French because of Canada being a bilingual country.
After the English information you will usually hear the station identification read out in both languages then you will hear the French translation. When a severe weather watch or warning is issued, there are various things you will hear depending on what is issued.
When a watch or warning is issued as a SAME weather alert, you will hear the 3 long scratchy beeps followed by what sounds like an egg timer for a few seconds. A voice message then says: “Environment Canada has issued a significant weather bulletin for regions in the broadcast area. Stay tuned for further information.” The message is repeated in French then 3 short beeps end the SAME message. When a warning is issued with the 1050 Hz tone, you will hear the tone then the severe weather bulletin in English and French, and then the regular broadcast cycle starts from the seven day local forecast.
In the United States, the NOAA Weather Radio broadcast cycle is not standardised like it is in Canada. It depends on which Weather office is responsible for disseminating the appropriate information to the various local counties being served by a particular station.
What’s New ?
Weather Radios Flying Off The Shelves After Tornadoes March 6, 2012 GLENVIEW, Ill. (CBS) – Retailers are working hard to keep weather radios in stock, after tornadoes devastated parts of downstate Illinois and other Midwest locations last week. As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, Abt Appliance in Glenview says serious weather this spring has reminded buyers they could use some advance warning of troubles ahead with automatic alerts over dedicated weather radios. “Heavy rain, flooding, tornadoes, all that stuff – we sold quite a few over the weekend online, for rural locations,” said electronics buyer Mark Sasicki. Sasicki says rural residents often find local stores sold out of automatic alert weather radios. “When you go into a small town, chances are that there’s a store there that will sell a weather radio, but they’re not going to stock 30, 40, 50, or 60, you know, units. They don’t have that kind of inventory available,” Sasicki said. “So when your local retail runs out, what do you do? You go online and search for it.” Sasicki says buyers cleaned out weather radios on the shelves over the weekend and placed orders for more, which will be arriving Friday.
The following links will take you to news articles on the Texas tornados that occurred on April 3rd. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/04/03/us/texas-weather/?hpt=hp_t3
Is Tornado Alley expanding? For more, go to http://www.Waow.com/story/17387064/is-tornado-alley-expanding
In the last issue, it was mentioned that the Windsor and Sarnia-Oilsprings transmitters are repeater stations to each other. It has recently been discovered that the Windsor machine has switched to FTP, while the Sarnia machine is still on dial-up. To make things stranger, the two machines are not in sync with each other. In fact one is either a minute or two behind or ahead in the broadcast.
The reason for this is that the two repeater stations are being split up into their own respective districts, depending which transmitter you can hear locally. We may have more on this in the next issue. Stay tuned.
Specific Area Message Encoding
Here is a complete list of Specific Area Message Encoding event codes. These correspond to weather and non-weather alerts associated with each code.
??A – UNRECOGNIZED WATCH
ADR – ADMINISTRATIVE MESSAGE
AVA – AVALANCHE WATCH
AVW – AVALANCHE WARNING
BHW – BIOLOGICAL HAZARD WARNING
BWW – BOIL WATER WARNING
BZW – BLIZZARD WARNING
CAE – CHILD UBDUCTION EMERGENCY
CDW – CIVIL DANGER WARNING
CEM – CIVIL EMERGENCY
CFA – COASTAL FLOOD WATCH
CFW – COASTAL FLOOD WARNING
CHW – CHEMICAL HAZARD WARNING
CWW – CONTAMINATED WATER WARNING
DBA – DAM WATCH
DBW – DAM BREAK WARNING
DEW – CONTAGIOUS DISEASE WARNING
DMO – PRACTICE/DEMO
DSW – DUST STORM WARNING
??E – UNRECOGNIZED EMERGENCY
EAN – EMERGENCY ACTION NOTIFICATION
EAT – EMERGENCY ACTION TERMINATION
EQW – EARTHQUAKE WARNING
EVA – EVACUATION WATCH
EVI – IMMEDIAT EVACUATION
FCW – FOOD CONTAMINATION WARNING
FFA – FLASH FLOOD WATCH
FFR – FLASH FLOOD STATEMENT
FFW – FLASH FLOOD WARNING
FLA – FLOOD WATCH
FLS – FLOOD STATEMENT
FLW – FLOOD WARNING
FRW – FIRE WARNING
FSW – FLASH FREEZE WARNING
FZW – FROST Warning in Canada FREEZE WARNING in the US
HLS – HURRICANE STATEMENT
HMW- HAZARDOUS MATERIALS WARNING
HUA – HURRICANE WATCH
HUW – HURRICANE WARNING
HWA – HIGH WIND WATCH
HWW – HIGH WIND WARNING
IBW – ICEBERG WARNING
IFW – INDUSTRIAL FIRE WARNING
LAE – LOCAL AREA EMERGENCY
LEW – LAW ENFORCEMENT WARNINGLSW – LAND SLIDE WARNING
NAT – NATIONAL AUDIBLE TEST
NIC – NATIONAL INFORMATION CENTRE
NMN – NETWORK NOTIFICATION
NPT – NATIONAL PERIODIC TEST
NST – NATIONAL SILENT TEST
NUW – NUCLEAR POWER PLANT WARNING
POS – POWER OUTAGE STATEMENT
RHW – RADIOLOGICAL HAZARD WARNING
RMT – REQUIRED MONTHLY TEST
RWT – REQUIRED WEEKLY TEST
??S – UNRECOGNIZED STATEMENT
SMW – SPECIAL MARINE WARNING
SPS – SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
SPW – SHELTER IN-PLACE WARNING
SVA – SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH
SVR – SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
SVS – SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
TOA – TORNADO WATCH
TOE – 911 TELEPHONE OUTAGE EMERGENCY
TOR – TORNADO WARNING
TRA – TROPICAL STORM WATCH
TRW – TROPICAL STORM WARNING
TSA – TSUNAMI WATCH
TSW – TSUNAMI WARNING
TXB – TRANSMITTER BACKUP ON
TXF – TRANSMITTER CARRIER OFF
TXO – TRANSMITTER CARRIER ON
VOW – VOLCANO WARNING
??W – UNRECOGNIZED WARNING
WFA – WILD FIRE WATCH
WFW – WILD FIRE WARNING
WSA – WINTER STORM WATCH
WSW – WINTER STORM WARNING
Note: in Canada an administrative message, required monthly test, severe thunderstorm warning, and tornado warnings are accompanied by a 1050 Hz tone.
Note: in Canada, winter storm warnings include: blowing snow warning, freezing drizzle warning, freezing rain warning, rainfall warnings during winter, snowfall warning, and snow squall watch and snow squall warning.
As a point of interest, during severe weather events, the National Weather Service has decided to use stronger language in the weather bulletins. This is thought to be in order to save lives! Let’s hope it works.
If you hear anything that doesn’t sound right on your local Weather Radio transmitter, there are various ways to report a problem that depend on where you live. If you live in The United States, you can call 1-888-697-7263. You can email NOAA at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr . If you live in Canada, you can call 1-877-789-7733. You can email the Meteorological Service of Canada at ECWeather-Meteo@ec.gc.ca or on the web at http://www.ec.gc.ca/weatheradio .
Friday March 2, the Collingwood and Orillia machines have stopped updating just after the 1:00 P.M. weather roundup and went into watchdog mode until 7:15 A.M. Monday March 5th. It has switched from FTP to dial-up because of an FTP loading issue.”I had to switch to dial-up this morning to get Collingwood to load. Techs are going to look into ftp loading which had stopped. So it’s back just not perfect.”
Peter Staples Dissemination – Ontario Region.
It was reset on the week of March 30th, when the techs were finally able to visit the site. It was given a hard reset, and it is back on FTP loading.
PROGRAMMING YOUR WEATHER RADIO – PART 2 OF 3
In the last issue, we talked about basic tone alert radios, compared to the newer SAME radios. We also discussed the difference between a weather watch and weather warning.
In this issue, we will talk about programming your SAME radio, focusing on 2 popular desktop models and we will also see comments from happy owners of the newer units.
If you are looking for a new SAME radio there are many that now incorporate the SAME technology, that is, will program only for the counties you want and for the type of alerts you want. Some of the names are: Midland, Oregon Scientific, First Alert, Reecom, Sangean, and several others. The Midland WR-300, and the Reecom R-1630 both have all the SAME features most people prefer. Plus, they have external antenna jacks and a jack for a flashing strobe light or bed shaker, to get your attention if the siren is turned off – or you are hard of hearing.
Setting up a SAME Radio requires three main things you have to consider. Where the WX station in the 162 MHz range is (channels 1-7) from which your radio will consistently receive a strong signal? From which counties covered by that strong station do you want to monitor alerts? Which alerts do you want to block?
If you live in Barrie Ontario, there are two Weatheradio Canada stations that you can receive reasonably good signals from there. They are within the cities of Collingwood, and Orillia. They are on two different frequencies but they are broadcasting the same WX information as repeater stations to each other. The Collingwood station (XMJ316) is at 162.475 MHz and the Orillia station (VBV562) is at 162.400 MHZ. The Buffalo (KEB98) and Little Valley (WWG32) stations are also identical to each other.
The WR-300 and the R-1630 WX Radios require you to manually select the WX channel and the county-specific FIPS or CLC codes. Then, go to the NOAA or Weatheradio Canada Webpage and look up all the information about which stations cover which counties and a list of the FIPS or CLC codes, the six-letter county-specific codes – for your area.
For the two radios you are given a choice of ALL, SINGLE, or MULTIPLE. ALL is the default when you manually select your channel. This provides all alerts within about a 50-mile or 60 kilometre radius. This is NOT normally what most people want. For example, if you have manually selected the Weatheradio station in Toronto, Ontario XMJ225), and you leave the radio set to ALL (counties), you get alerts from 11 counties, one of them just North of the Greater Toronto Area in Orangeville, and the city of Hamilton to the west.
They both also have a single mode, to receive alerts from only one county. If you set the single county as your home county, you miss all the alerts from adjoining counties where your upcoming weather is no doubt developing.
Finally, there is a selection for MULTIPLE. Here you can enter only those counties that you think might affect you. In the case of people who live in the region of Niagara in Ontario, you could program the radio for either: “St. Catharines, Grimsby (northern Niagara Region)”, “Niagara Falls, Welland (Southern Niagara Region)”, or the entire region in the Single county setting, just in case a storm rolls in from Western New York.
It is best to go to the NOAA or Weatheradio Canada Web pages and make sure that the counties from which you want to hear alerts are broadcast from the transmitter you select. The NOAA lists show you the frequency in MHz, the location of the transmitter, and its call sign and power output. You can read all of the counties for which alerts are broadcast by the station you chose. In Canada you will get the stations city and county coverage but if you want the call sign you can go to http://www.dxinfocentre.com .”By and large I find the quality of the Midland W-R300 very good though the FM part of the unit is not as quite as selective as I would like it to be. I tune in regularly for weather updates. I think, overall, the manufacturers can be given close to full marks on their unit.”
If you want to block unwanted alerts on the Reecom R-1630 or the Midland WR-300, you go into the blocking menu and scroll down to an alert and click a button to block it and move on to the next one.
Disabling the unwanted alerts is simple, and there are choices of alerts using a siren, voice announcements, or just LEDs on the panel. Four AA batteries will keep the WX radio going for a while during a power outage. There is also an AM/FM radio built in, as well as a clock with an alarm feature in the WR-300. The R-1630 from Reecom doesn’t have the AM/FM radio but the R-1650 also from Reecom does. Both the W-R300 and R-1630 have the alarm clock feature. The Reecom unit has 2 alarms; whereas the Midland WR-300 has one alarm.
On the R1630 and the Midland WR-300, if you have blocked an audible alert, that alert will still show up as an LED alert and the type of alert scrolls across the screen in large letters. Red is a Warning, Orange is a Watch, and Yellow is an Advisory. So, if you see the LED is Orange, you can walk over to see what kind of Watch is being broadcast – or punch a button and listen to the alert message.
“Both menus are understandable. The Midland W-r300 is easier to navigate through the menus and menu names and functions are easier to understand.”
If you find the alert tones on the Midland WR-300 and the Reecom R-1630 too loud, look in the manual and it clearly tells how to set the volume level of the Alerts and Voice messages to Hi or Low for both radios. The W-r300 has just a high and low volume level for the alarm, where as the R-1630 has 16 levels of alarm volume.
“I prefer a potentiometer as a volume control for the W-r300, rather than the stepped menu setting with the R-1630.”
This is one more feature to look for in the radio you eventually buy.
In the next issue, we will talk about SAME WX Radios that do not allow the blocking of alerts, and we will discuss some of the latest portable WX SAME Radios out there.
Introducing Peter Hope-Tindall
A little about me! My name is Peter Hope-Tindall, I was first licensed as a radio amateur in 1983 at the age of 16 while living in Manitoba. My current call is VE3XIZ (I also hold VA3YR and VA3PHT). I hold advanced and CW qualifications.
I regularly listen to Weatheradio to keep on top of weather conditions and to make sure the outside world is still ‘up and running’!
I’m not as active in amateur radio these days as I’d like to be due to work pressures. For my day job I’m Head of Privacy for Service Ontario, part of the Ontario Government Ministry of Government Services.
My email address is email@example.com. Cheers.Introducing Maxwell Crawford
My name is Maxwell Crawford from Windsor Ontario. I am 34 years old and will be celebrating my Birthday on May 17th. I got interested in Weather thanks to Gord who purchased me a wind up weather radio. I found it nice I could monitor the conditions and figure out what to wear without waiting for the normal radio stations to report the temperature. I got involved with Canwarn, and though I don’t have a Ham Radio License, I found there was a lot of neat info to learn. I am still learning things, because all the stuff they teach at the training program overwhelms my mind. Aside from this, thanks to Gord, I have better weather radios, including the MRHH100VP, a discontinued Marine radio, and a Midland W-R300 that you plug in and it monitors the weather constantly!
My big beef and frustration with the Windsor Weather station is this. It’s not very strong at all!!!!! I have to move the radio and cord just right for the week weather station to come in. The American one is stronger, in fact it is clear as a bell, but I don’t understand American temperature. I’d like it if they could find a way to strengthen the Windsor Weather station so people could drive and walk throughout the city with a weather radio, and hear when there are warnings and storms.
Now for some unimportant stuff. I am into Old Time Radio Shows! I have an Old Time Radio Club that meets twice a month on Wednesdays. We have an hour and a half of Radio shows, and then socialize for the rest of the Evening. We start around 7 P.M. and end around 9 or 11 P.M. I am also on the Blind OTR Friends and discussion lists. If you go to the following link you’ll be able to join these lists and download a lot of good shows! Its ran by Bob Acosta and others!!! The site is: http://www.radiooutofthepast.org .
They play Radio Shows every Thursday night starting around 9 P.M.
Any how’s that’s enough of that for now, back to weather. The one thing I enjoyed about Canwarn was first, winning a weather radio. Although it doesn’t pick up the weather at all, cause it’s a very basic simple small wind up radio, it instead, picks up some A.M. and F.M. I listen to the all news station to keep track of time, and that radio is good enough for that. I can carry it around and if I was camping I’d use it for radio info. Second neat thing, I really enjoyed them talking about storms and such, and adding lots of audio clips, and sound effects of the storms. Wow!!! I felt more involved due to all the sound we heard.
Before I go I hope you all have a nice month coming up in May. I’ll be going to visit my family on May 16th to June 6th in Kaslow BC. I also will be celebrating my 35th Birthday on May 17th!!!
Now folks I am going to let Gord and the rest of the team give you more info and discussion as I am now heading out to hang with friends! Peace out!!!
Where to Purchase Weather Radios
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/
CB World at http://www.werecb.com/
Universal Radio at http://www.universal-radio.com/
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.
Weather Information on the Internet
Suggested weather sites to visit as follows;
In Canada visit http://firstname.lastname@example.org/
Want to get your weather in the US? Go to http://www.nws.noaa.gov/
Weatheradio Canada webpage at http://www.ec.gc.ca/weatheradio
NOAA Weather Radio webpage at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr
DX Info Centre at http://www.dxinfocentre.com/
YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazard Newsletter at http://www.weather.gov/nwr/news.htm
Yahoo Weatheradio Chatgroup at http://tech.Groups.yahoo.com/group/weatheradio/
“WXtoIMG” at http://www.wxtoim.com
Digital Atmosphere at http://www.weathergraphics.com
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 list of suggested weather radios is strictly for informational purposes, and not as an endorsement of 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 North America.
Oregon Scientific http://www2oregonscientific.com W-R601, and W-R602 are currently sold in North America.
Uniden Corporation http://www.Uniden.com BC95XLT, BC125AT, BC346XT, BCT15X, BCD996XT, Homepatrol, and BCD396XT are currently sold in North America.
Sangean USA http://www.Sangean.com CL100, DT400, and PRD9W are manufactured by Sangean and currently sold in North America.
Reecom Electronics Inc. http://www.reecominc.com R-1630 and R-1650 are manufactured by Reecom and currently sold in North America.
If you have any comments or suggestions, or if you wish to submit an article, please email the author Gord at email@example.com. You can also visit my WeatherRadios Listeners Newsletter website located at
I would like to give special thanks to those who made contributions to this third issue as follows: Rob Rodriguez, CNN, BBC, CBS, Denis Paquette, Dennis T. Paganin (webmaster), Peter Staples, Malcolm Kendal, Robert Just, Joey Shynn, Peter Hope-Tindall, Gregory Zwicker, Max Crawford, Richard Rhodes David Young, and Marc Fitkin for their help and contributions with this issue.
Sincerely, Gord VA3WXA