Severe Weather Toolkit

1.1 Severe Weather Alerts

Being prepared for severe weather before it occurs means having accurate and timely information and staying informed as events progress. Apart from regularly monitoring of local television and radio for weather information, other methods of staying informed include having a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio and paying close attention to wireless emergency alerts. Additionally, some communities may use audible sirens to provide alerts about impending severe weather conditions. Individuals should therefore check with their local municipal or county authorities to determine if sirens are used in the area. Also, inquiries should be made about circumstances under which sirens can be activated and the protective actions needed.

NOAA Weather Radio

"NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office".1 The NWR broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and provides other hazard information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Most NWRs include a battery backup therefore, they can provide critical information even when the power is out. NWR broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security, natural, environmental, and public safety notifications through the Emergency Alert System as well. During an emergency, the National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters interrupt routine broadcasts and send a special tone activating local weather radios. Weather radios are equipped with a special alarm tone feature that will sound an alert to provide immediate information regarding a threat to life and property, such as a tornado.

Weather radios are widely available at electronics stores and other retailers or through safety supply companies. Schools should consider having weather radios at key locations within the district such as the central administration office, transportation department, bus barn, maintenance facility, and the principal's office at each school.

A NWR Station Listing for Texas can be found by clicking the button below.

NWR Station Listing for Texas

Wireless Emergency Alerts

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are another way to rapidly provide emergency notification to the public. WEAs can be automatically sent to mobile devices without the need for a subscription to a service or the download of an app. Below are some general considerations:

  • WEAs can be sent by the state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and by the President of the United States.
  • WEAs can be issued for three alert categories – imminent threat, AMBER, and presidential.
  • WEAs look like text messages, but are designed to get your attention and alert you with a unique sound and vibration that is repeated twice.
  • WEAs are no more than 90 characters, and generally includes the type and time of the alert, any action that needs to be taken, as well as the agency issuing the alert.
  • WEAs are not affected by network congestion and therefore they do not disrupt texts, calls, or data sessions that are in progress.
  • Mobile users are not charged any fees for receiving WEAs and also, there is no need for a subscription.
  • To ensure your device is WEA-capable, check with your service provider.

More information on WEAs can be found by clicking the button below.

FAQ on Wireless Emergency Alerts from FEMA

References

1 NOAA Weather Radio. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/