FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ron Trumbla
The National Weather Service's NOAA Weather Radio program grew by leaps and bounds during the last years of the 20th century. The agency plans to continue that growth into the new millennium through cooperative agreements with public and private partners to meet the goal of coverage for 95 percent of the U.S. population.
The National Weather Service added 60 NOAA Weather Radio transmitters nationwide last year, bringing the total number to 571. NWS used partnerships with several public and private entities to realize substantial growth in the nation's only official public warning service.
"We have been making progress with Weather Radio expansion," said Ken Putkovich, the program manager for NOAA Weather Radio. "Much of the expansion, which occurred during the past couple of years, is due to the tremendous support from partners in the public and private sectors. Cooperators provided a way to increase the number of stations beyond those federally funded."
In the NWS Central Region, where 17 new transmitters were added last year through cooperative efforts, Regional Director Dennis McCarthy said, "Congress has supported the NOAA Weather Radio program, but we were looking for a way to expand the network, while holding down expenses for taxpayers."
In the late 1990s, NWS began obtaining signatures on the first agreements that allowed others to buy accepted Weather Radio transmitters built to NWS specifications and donate them to the NWS to operate and maintain them.
Putkovich said the Weather Radio cooperators are especially beneficial as expansion moves into the more rural states. "Partnering with willing cooperators brings NOAA Weather Radio coverage to many areas much quicker than we could do alone."
Putkovich said cooperators include rural electrical cooperatives, rural telephone companies, state emergency management agencies, county governments, private companies, broadcast media, and at least one state educational television network (Wisconsin). "We have been able to put together some rather unique partnerships to secure Weather Radio transmitters."
"We're demonstrating how effective NOAA Weather Radio can be in the areas covered," Putkovich said.
He added, "The [NWS] mission is to issue weather forecasts and warnings that help save lives and protect propety. Expansion of the NOAA Weather Radio broadcast network will help us do that job better than ever before by providing more direct links from our forecast offices to the public."
NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts on seven VHF high band FM frequencies: 162.400 MHz; 162.425 MHz; 162.450 MHz; 162.475 MHz; 162.500 MHz; 162.525 MHz; and 162.5550 MHz.
More information on NOAA Weather Radio, which also comes with a tone-alert feature to wake up sleeping residents in the path of a storm, is available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr