NOAA 03-057
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NOAA News Releases 2003
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NOAA Presents All Hazards Radios to House Science Committee Chair & Members

After a record breaking week of tornadoes and just before the beginning of this year’s hurricane season, some congressional leaders are taking a NOAA Weather Radio education campaign to their home districts to spread the word about the warning system’s technology and its safety benefits. Representatives of NOAA, The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, met with weather radio manufacturers and national safety representatives to present life saving NOAA Weather Radio receivers to the House Science Committee chairman and other committee members at a Capitol Hill ceremony today.

“Up to the minute warnings on NOAA Weather Radio helped many families seek shelter from the record breaking tornado systems that recently plagued the nation’s mid-section,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph. D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Coordination between the network of NOAA forecasters, quick acting emergency managers and the broadcast media provided extremely timely warnings.”

NOAA Weather Radio is a special receiver capable of picking up the signals from a nationwide network of more than 800 radio transmitters. NOAA broadcasts severe weather warnings, watches, forecasts and other all-hazard information direct from a nearby NOAA National Weather Service office continuously 24 hours a day. NOAA is a part of the Department of Commerce.

“Every year, hurricanes smash against our coastlines, tornados tear through our neighborhoods, wildfires ravage countless acres, blizzards freeze our northern communities: natural disasters are an unfortunate fact of life for most Americans. Every year, NOAA Weather Radio provides essential warnings so that individuals can protect themselves against sudden threats,” said Representative Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Science Committee. “Furthermore, as an all-hazards network, NOAA Weather Radio can alert our citizens to non-weather related threats such as chemical or nuclear spills, terrorist attacks and it can even be used for AMBER Alerts. NOAA Weather Radio is important because it saves lives.

The central United States experienced a record-breaking week of tornadoes from May 4-10, when approximately 400 tornadoes occurred in 19 states causing 44 deaths, according to the NOAA National Weather Service. Four states have been declared disaster areas by President George W. Bush: Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

"Early warning of severe storms is essential to ensure public safety. NOAA weather radios play a vital role in public safety linking the NOAA National Weather Service to citizens in the path of severe weather. The NOAA weather radios are always ready to respond when needed,” said Representative Ralph Hall (D-Texas), ranking member of the House Science Committee. “I am very pleased that NOAA is taking advantage of the retailing capabilities of the private sector to raise citizen awareness about this important government service."

On May 19, NOAA hurricane experts announced the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be more active, with 11 to 15 tropical storms, producing six to nine hurricanes, two to four of them major hurricanes. Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coastal residents should be prepared for the season, which runs June 1 through November 30. President George W. Bush signed a proclamation announcing May 18 -24 as National Hurricane Awareness Week.

“When we are aware of the dangers of severe storms, our citizens can take steps to mitigate them. Early warning saves lives, and NOAA Weather Radio serves as the primary warning device available,” said Deputy Secretary Sam Bodman. “We all need to continue to spread the word to our schools, our hospitals, our emergency personnel and others about NOAA Weather Radio.”

"RadioShack and the entire weather radio manufacturing industry are gratified by the efforts of NOAA and the House Science committee to encourage the public use of the all hazards NOAA weather radio as a primary method receiving alerts of any impending danger," said Leonard Roberts, chairman and CEO of RadioShack (NYSE:RSH), a manufacturer and distributor of weather radio receivers. “I can personally attest to the value of early warnings. When our headquarters building was damaged by a tornado that hit downtown Fort Worth in March 2000, our security team used the weather radios to provide early warnings to our employees and thankfully, no one was injured.”

“As many news reports covering the recent wave of tornados across the U.S. have pointed out, NOAA all-hazard alert radios do save lives. We are very proud of the role our industry plays in this continuing partnership with NOAA whose goal is to provide the modern technology to inform and protect the American public,” said Eric Schenck vice president, Midland Radio Corporation.

NOAA Weather Radio coverage reaches 95 percent of the population base in all 50 states, adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Pacific Territories. Broadcasts are found in the public service band on seven frequencies. Thomson, the manufacturer of RCA television products, has become the first to add all-hazard warning capability to a line of TV sets.

"NOAA maintains a vital link to the American public, delivering timely and important information about local conditions, threats, and emergencies. RCA Alert Guard constantly monitors the NOAA network to keep consumers informed about current conditions -- even when your TV is turned off or when you're watching a DVD," said Dave Arland, director of Public & Trade Relations for Thomson.

NOAA Weather Radios are part of the NOAA National Weather Service “StormReady” program that prepares and certifies a town or city on their disaster preparedness and severe weather educational activities. StormReady helps community leaders and emergency managers strengthen their local hazardous weather operations by ensuring that they have the tools needed to receive and disseminate life saving National Weather Service warnings in the quickest time possible.

A StormReady community must have a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center and an emergency management alert system plan in place to get warning information to the public. To be recognized as StormReady, a community must also have a NOAA Weather Radio in the following facilities: 24 hour warning points; emergency operations center; City Hall; and school superintendent offices. NOAA Weather Radios are also recommended in locations such as schools, hospitals and public buildings.

“NOAA Weather Radios should be as common as smoke detectors. We encourage everyone to equip their homes, schools, businesses and public places with this lifesaving device,” Lautenbacher said. “The more NOAA Weather Radio receivers we place in people’s hands, the more lives we save.”

NOAA Weather Radio receivers can be purchased at many retail stores that sell electronic merchandise, including stand-alone electronic retail outlets, electronics departments within department stores, and some drug stores. NOAA Weather Radio receivers can also be purchased through some mail order catalogs. Prices can vary from $20 to $200, depending on the model. Many receivers have an alarm feature that can sound an alert and give immediate life-saving information. More sophisticated models with Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) functionality can be programmed by the listener to pre-select only the alerts they want to receive for one or more counties in their area.

The NOAA National Weather Service has been actively promoting public-private partnerships to provide resources needed to extend NOAA Weather Radio coverage. Nearly 300 new NOAA Weather Radio transmitters have been installed since 2000 through grassroots partnerships, combining the resources of private enterprises; associations; the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other federal, state and local agencies. Broadcast range from most weather radio transmitters is approximately 40 miles. The effective range depends on terrain, quality of the receiver and indoor/outdoor antennas.

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

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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