Weather Radios and the NOAA Coverage Area


If you live just about anywhere in the United States, you’ve probably already heard about the NOAA radio network. Considered to be one of the most comprehensive weather radio networks designed to warn people regarding dangerous weather hazards and anomalous weather conditions, NOAA has helped countless families and individuals prepare for and get out of the way of large, destructive events such as strong hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires and snow storms.

Where Did NOAA Originate?

The concept of using radio networks to warn people about bad weather conditions dates back 50 years to the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the US Weather Bureau adopted its new name – the National Weather Service, and established the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The network initially consisted of just under 30 VHF-FM transmitters that were tasked to bring local weather reports regarding weather hazards to the general population. The number of transmitters rapidly grew from 29 to 66, then by the end of the 1970s, over 300 transmitters were established throughout the entire country.

Today, there are well over 1,000 weather transmitters that ensure a coverage area of about 97% of the entire surface area of the United States. Basically, anywhere you go, as long as you stay on US soil, you will be protected by the large array of radio transmitters that constantly provides weather updates and storm warnings on land and sea.

How Does the System Work?

The NOAA network works by broadcasting vital information about hazards and bad weather throughout the entire country. The numerous transmitters that are placed in key strategic locations throughout the country ensure that the signal is strong enough to be heard throughout the local or regional area that it targets.

The signal can typically be picked up with a simple hand crank radio, so that locals who are forced off the grid or who have to deal with constant power shortages will be provided with relevant support and information regarding the state of the area in their own local regions.

Much of the information presented through the radio broadcast has to do with regional forecast updates and summaries that can be transmitted through NOAA as often as once every 15 minutes. Basically, if you get your hand-powered radio, there are very few places where NOAA can’t reach you. Whether providing tornado warnings or raising awareness about strong, unpredictable storms, NOAA radios have become completely indispensable in this day and age.

What Is NOAA’s Coverage Area?

The NOAA coverage area extends to the entirety of the United States. It’s not just limited to the most densely populated areas like the East and West Coast, but also extends to regions of countryside where there are no cities for hundreds of miles.

The extent to which the NOAA weather radio network can go to warn people regarding future storms, fires, floods or tornadoes is more than impressive. Even though coverage for Alaska is somewhat more limited, NOAA also covers large areas within and around the Rocky Mountains, the waters of Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and the large, open spaces of the state of Texas.

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  1. I liked your information about NOAA in the article above. We live in Duarte California which is east of Pasadena along the Foothill (I 210)Freeway. on the edge, the very edge of the L.A. basin with 17 million people in it. And I’m sure that we could ‘receive’ the NOAA broadcasts in our present location. So, your article about NOAA only lacked one item. How do you receive the broadcasts if the power is off? The link in your article did not work. Will regular radios plugged into emergency power work? Or do you need a special radio to receive the broadcast? You need to expand on this.
    We live at 960 ft. of sea level, on a hillside, 45 miles inland. We have a cesspool septic system, city water is standard, but city sewage is not available. But I regard that as a blessing. It means working toilets in any emergency. Why? Because we have an in the ground swimming pole with 21,000 gallons of water in it. Not only would we have water to flush toilets, we would also have water for bathing and drinking. So, in any emergency, we would hunker down in place. And we are about mile hike up a step hill. Only one road up. In all of my ‘reading’ of how to hunker down, I have never read anything resembling ours. And I forgot to mention, we have 39 photovoltaic panels on our roof. So far, the only thing that they do is to reduce our electric bill. We live on the edge of almost unclimbable canyon. so an ‘attack’ could only come from three sides, really only two. I think that we have a hunker-down-in-the-city model, though incomplete, to follow. This is principally because we have not converted to getting power from the photovoltaics to an inverter/battery power system, as opposed to feeding it into the city power system.
    I think there is too much emphasis on ‘fleeing’ to safety in the countryside in these bug out situations. Where the hell would we go, into the Mohave desert? It is ‘live or die’ right here.


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