What is NOAA Weather Radio and How does it Work

The state of tranquillity one feels when he knows that his family is completely safe against the wrath of nature is inexplicable. Now we have minute-to-minute knowledge of how the weather is likely to change and how it can impact our daily activities.

How do we have such meticulous information about the weather which has a long history of being unpredictable? Yes, we get this information from our region’s meteorological department as they have a multitude of mediums to convey such intel. 

Recently, a region in South Asia was threatened due to a growing super cyclone, and because the concerned departments were aware of this growing terror, they were able to relay the information to the coastal areas and order an immediate evacuation. Due to this efficacious dissent, hundreds of families were saved, though the cyclone caused havoc in the region.

If we hadn’t developed the means of communication, with such climatic threats, so many lives from the dawn of history would’ve been lost at the hands of nature.

But how does this dissent of information work in the USA? The United States has its very own body whose primary role circles around gathering information about the weather and potential change in it and relaying warning about the approaching calamity. This body is known as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the NOAA radio.

how does a noaa weather radio work

What is NOAA Weather Radio?

NOAA is an automated network of various weather radio station across the United States and which is responsible for broadcasting weather-related information directly from the nearby office of the National Weather service. You get scrupulous daily dose of weather information wherein you get all the intel about current weather, a possible change in weather, climate synopsis, and warning about climatic threats.

The NOAA, an American scientific agency, gave birth to its radio services, namely, NOAA radios, which acts as a medium between the sender and receiver of weather-related information. The NOAA weather radio also broadcasts several non-weather information such as National news, weather columns, disaster information, etc.

Because of the existence of this wide-scale service, which is used both in Canada and the USA, many lives have been saved, and mass destruction has been averted. From procuring and processing data in order to save lives and livelihood to keep a close track of weather conditions, NOAA has not only contributed in saving and protecting the human resources of the country but also contributed in major economic sectors such as agriculture, industry, mining, tourism, construction, etc.

The NOAA satellites have helped in saving lives too. For instance, in 2016, 46 people were saved from a sinking fishing vessel in the Bering sea located new Alaska. This rescue operation was possible owing to the efficiency of the NOAA satellite and its ground operation. We get regulars instances where the prediction of weather has proved to be the sole savior of the masses.

NOAA Weather Radios have proved themselves to of sheer importance because of the functionality it offers, and many people have regarded it as an essential home commodity. And why not? I would personally feel a lot better if I knew that all of my family members, scattered across the country, would in no way be harmed by a cyclone or a tornado because they are on their guard at all times thanks to the NOAA weather radio.

But how does the NOAA weather radio work? How do they get to know about the fate of each region across the States, and how can they issue warning on such a large-scale? Let’s understand.

How does NOAA Weather Radio Work?

NOAA Weather Radio network is a public service rendered by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The NOAA issue all sorts of weather warnings from minor to major, so the corresponding bodies of that region could take steps to ensure immediate evacuation and all possible measures to save lives and livelihood. 

The radio service of the NOAA transmits the weather forecasts and information about various weather components. As these particulars are relayed through radio waves, to receive the signals, you would need a specialized VHF radio receiver. This receiver will be responsible for receiving the transmitted signals from the VHF channels within the frequency range from 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz.

This entire range is collectively known as the Weather Band as this range is reserved exclusively for NOAA, and no other communication can take place within this band, ergo, no interruptions whatsoever. A radio must possess this range of band; otherwise, it will not receive the NOAA signals. This is particularly in the case of standard FM and AM broadcast stations.

There are various other radios that serve the functions of both FM and NOAA services. In such radios, not only do you receive the signal of FM stations but also the NOAA, enabling you to reap the benefits of both. However, these radios can prove themselves to be less efficacious than the exclusive NOAA radios.

They are one of a kind when it comes to getting weather-related information and warnings. It is to be noted that there are several kinds of warning issued by the NOAA, and not each warning is a cue for panic and evacuation. Let’s understand each of these warnings and how they can be interpreted.

Types of Warnings 


A watch can be categorized as an alarm wherein a natural calamity is likely to occur, but there is substantial evidence to corroborate it. This means, even though the body is unsure about the certainty of the occurrence, it still wants you to be on guard in the event that the speculation does come to be realized.

If the event does come to pass, it can be very threatening, putting yourself and your family’s life in danger, and so, you should take necessary precautions should the event comes to pass. When a Watch is issued, you should take measures like preparing a disaster kit constituting essentialities such as medicines, non-perishable food, torchlight, NOAA weather radio, backup batteries, etc.

This is necessary because if the calamity dawns upon you on short notice, you will be prepared and would not succumb to panic and anxiety. Watches are issue a few hours before the event is predicted to take place.


A warning is issued when there is no room for speculation, and the prediction is backed up with substantial data. This means it is time to take action. A warning is your cue to take measures to protect life and livelihood and not stay put and be on the move.

Sometimes, the warnings are issued when the event has already set its course into action, and you have to take immediate steps to protect yourself. It is possible that you may have only minutes before the calamity knocks at your door. So, these warnings are to be taken with the utmost solemnity.


Advisory is a warning for non-severe threats, which can cause no harm to life and livelihood but may pose some restrictions on movement and travel. The cautions to these require not to go outside and stay all the time indoors. Even if you are at your workplace, you ought to stay put.

Few examples of events that may necessitate the issuance of an advisory alert are freezing rain and hail. Hail can wound a person severely if he does not take the warning solemnly.


Emergency alerts are issued when events that do not pose a direct threat to the people are likely to occur or are occurring. These events do not harm the individual directly, such as in a way that may result in death, loss of property, or wounds, but it can cause inconvenience to the person.

These alerts include travel restrictions, power outage, etc. Though they do not threaten your life, your activities may come to a halt because of these. 


In this article, we have discussed the NOAA and its functionality in-depth and how they issue warnings. These are some of the particulars which are important as even the knowledge of these can prove to be helpful. With Climate emergency at the brink, the Climate seems to become more and more unpredictable by each day.

A deep insight into its current form and the potential variation in it has become imperative. It is important to have knowledge about the course of weather each day before you set out to work or start a day, this is the precise function of NOAA weather radio as it gives not only minute-to-minute weather information but also gives due warnings and serve its purpose of saving lives.

NOAA weather radios are easy to get and can be purchased from online shopping websites or any electronic retail store in your region. As even the NOAA radios have varying features in each of them, a thorough study into the functionality of each can come in handy to avoid the indecisiveness. I hope this article has been enlightening and served its fundamental objective.

Related Posts

About the Author


I am Tim, a weather enthusiast who loves to watch hurricanes and all other harsh weather conditions. I studied B.Sc(Meteorology) at the University of Miami. With excellent knowledge of Weather Forecasting, Meteorology, and Environmental Science, I am currently working in San Francisco as a Meteorologist. Also, I am a member of The Weather Channel and AccuWeather. In this blog, I will write a detailed review of Weather instruments that you need for survival and other activities.