NOAA 2002-088
Contact: Susan Weaver
NOAA News Releases 2002
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New Female and Male Voices Powered by SpeechWorks

NOAA's National Weather Service begins using new voices for NOAA Weather Radio in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore areas Wednesday, July 10. Listeners will hear current weather conditions and severe weather warnings delivered by the new computer voice program with a natural sounding male and female voice.

NOAA's National Weather Service, an agency of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, spent months evaluating computer text-to-speech software and public input before selecting male and female weather radio voices. Based on responses, NOAA selected Speechify™ TTS software from SpeechWorks International, Inc., and awarded the voice improvement contract to Siemens Information and Communication Network, Inc., of Boca Raton, Fl. Now weather forecast offices around the country will customize weather radio programs so words and local geographical names are understandable to listeners.

"NOAA Weather Radio can mean the difference between life and death during a hurricane, tornado or flash flood," said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly, director of the National Weather Service. "We chose a more easily understandable software voice combining phonetic sounds with natural language that works with our existing computer system to deliver prompt warnings in situations where seconds can save lives."

NOAA Weather Service first used a computer synthesized voice technology in 1997. Automating NOAA Weather Radio transmissions enabled NOAA Weather Service to send out multiple independent warnings over many transmitters simultaneously, allowing speedier delivery of severe weather warnings and more lead time for the public.

"Having an automated system providing for a clear, understandable voice is vital in performing our mission of protecting lives and property," said Jim Travers, meteorologist in charge of the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore area's weather forecast office in Sterling, Va. "We experience a lot of severe weather here, making it critical that we quickly and clearly communicate our warnings to the public."

"We're excited to deliver this unique application to NOAA Weather Service to help them safeguard the lives and property of millions of people across the country," said Steve Chambers, chief marketing officer at SpeechWorks. "Speechify software allows NOAA Weather Service offices to make weather conditions and emergency information immediately available to its listeners in an easy to understand and natural sounding voice."

NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts, and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warnings and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property, and enhance the national economy.

For more information about NOAA's National Weather Service visit

The new and old voices are on the NOAA Weather Radio Web site at

To learn more about NOAA Weather Radio go to