House bill

House Bill to modernize NOAA weather radio passes; Sent to the Senate

This radio made by Midland is one of many special radios that can receive NOAA emergency alerts and weather forecasts across the country. Image: Midland

A bill to modernize NOAA’s National Weather Radio System has successfully passed the House and is sent to the Senate for consideration. Known as HR 5324, the “NOAA Weather Radio Modernization Act of 2021,” Representatives Stephanie Bice (Republican, Oklahoma) and Mikie Sherrill (Democrat, New Jersey) introduced the bill last September. Just a few days ago, the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, to which the bill was referred to provide advice and invest in the upgrading and modernization of the network of All-Hazards Weather Radio of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reported “favorable thereto with one amendment and recommends that the bill as amended be passed into law.

The House voted 397-20 in favor of the bill; it was transmitted to the Senate on May 12.

This legislation directs NOAA to fix outdated technology currently used in its weather radio system. In addition, it provides funding to stations that serve areas that have little or no reliable, quality cell phone service, ensuring that these areas receive adequate support to maintain existing alert systems. meteorological conditions, such as earthquakes, avalanches, chemical releases or tornadoes. This legislation establishes a broadcast modernization initiative to transition to IP communications and expand options for backup capabilities and enhanced signal transmission. This bill paves the way for future development and provides security options, so that the National Weather Radio (NWR) is never out of service for an extended period of time and outages are less frequent.

“NOAA’s Weather Radio System is critical to protecting Oklahomans and Americans across the country from extreme weather threats,” Rep. Bice said in a statement. “As the world becomes digital, we must ensure that older systems that protect life and property are not left behind. I am grateful that the House passed this essential legislation, which aims to provide every citizen with reliable and efficient access to this vital service. I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will quickly adopt this measure.

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations streaming weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. NWR issues official weather service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Working with the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Alert System, NWR is an “all-hazards” radio network, making it your single source for comprehensive weather and emergency information. Working with federal, state, and local emergency managers and other public officials, NWR also disseminates warning and post-event information for all types of hazards — including natural ones (such as earthquakes or avalanches), environmental (such as chemical releases or oil spills). ), and public safety (such as AMBER alerts or 911 phone outages).

Known as the “Voice of NOAA’s National Weather Service”, NWR is provided as a public service by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is part of the Department of Commerce. NWR includes over 1000 transmitters, covering all 50 states, adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and US Pacific territories. NWR requires a special radio receiver or scanner capable of picking up the signal. Broadcasts are in the VHF public service band at these seven frequencies (MHz): 162.400, 162.425, 162.450, 162.475, 162.500, 162.525 and 162.550.

This map shows the extent of coverage of the existing NOAA Weather Radio Service.  Image: NOAA
This map shows the extent of coverage of the existing NOAA Weather Radio Service. Image: NOAA