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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Weather Radios in Canada

(originally posted at the MPN by Frazer)

Most of us are aware of the NOAA radios that work through the National Weather Service (NWS) in the USA. A while ago I was wondering how effective these radios are in Canada. So I went on a crusade for information. (The internet made this really easy, I can't imagine trying it back in the 50s or something!)

Environment Canada's Weather Radio page is a good source for information. 92% of Canadians live within the range of a transmitter. You can find your frequency here.

Weatheradio is what we call it in Canada. It's a national network of radio stations broadcasting weather and environmental information 24 hours a day in both english and french directly from Environment Canada's storm prediction centres.

Formed in 1977 there are now 183 sites across Canada continually transmitting weather information through 7 VHF frequencies on the public service band. The Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) operates the Weatheradio Canada network.

Canada does have SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) technology so your radio will kick on early in and alert you when a warning comes out so you don't need the radio playing all day and night. However I found this to be a pain in the neck while your sleeping if it's not an emergency that requires immediate action. However it can save your life so I deal with it. Here is a Q&A for the SAME system. Here is more info on SAME in Canada

I've got one of these on my kitchen counter and it is loud enough for me to hear from my bedroom in the next room. It has SAME and gives me weather alerts when they come out. Yes it's a pain to be pulled out of a deep sleep to hear a weather alerts but it's better than being unaware! I also carry one of these Sangean DT400w radios in my EDC bag so that I can listen to further information once I get the text message stating there is a weather emergency. I also keep a Kaito KA500 radio in my work gear bag for in the guard shack (I'm currently a security guard but looking for better employment) so that I can get weather alerts in case I need to alert the factory manager which is part of my job. Unfortunately they wont let us put the WeatherEye widget on our computer to get alerts and weather much easier.

Weather radios are turning into "all hazard" radio systems for example soon Amber alerts and terrorist threats will be broadcast over the Weatherradio system

Here is the F.A.Q. on the entire Weather Radio system in Canada. Some notables are...

What makes Weatheradio different than commercial radio broadcasts?
Two things -- it provides continuous weather information 24 hours a day and, more importantly, a Weatheradio receiver in standby mode can turn itself on to notify you of impending severe weather. You don't have to be tuned in to a particular commercial station at the precise moment they air the weather bulletin to be informed of weather hazards.

Will the receiver I bought a few years ago still work?
An older style of receiver will still pick up the audio Weatheradio broadcast. However some older models have only the original 3 frequencies rather than the current 7. While the older models will continue to work, only a newer receiver with digital SAME capabilities will allow the choice of which alerts to receive.

How can I find out if my location is covered by Weatheradio service?
Follow the link to Find A Transmitter and select your region. The signal is normally received for approximately a 60 km radius around the transmitter location.

Where can I get a Weatheradio receiver?
Weatheradio receivers can be found in many electronics stores. A partial list of suppliers can be found on the Weatheradio receivers page.

Will my Weatheradio bought in Canada work in the U.S.?
Yes. Canada and the U.S. use the same VHF frequencies to transmit Weatheradio broadcasts. The tone alert and SAME code features will also work in the U.S. as these are standard across all of North America. There are over 900 NOAA Weather Radio stations in the U.S. For a complete listing, check out the U.S. National Weather Service's NOAA Weather Radio website.

Check the full F.A.Q. to see all the info available.

Here is a PDF of the Weather Radio pamphlet.

Now I think a radio that receives the Weather Radio system and has SAME (So that you don't need to listen 24/7) is essential preps for your home. Like my last post said "Information is power" and sometimes older technology like radio is a good backup and good to have around to get this information. You may not hear your cellular phone receive the text message but your weather radio will wake you up for sure! You also want to make sure that the radio you use has battery backup so that if the power goes out you've still got the radio running! You can't be without information just because you lost power!

Again Information is power, it will give you the information to get ready for weather emergencies!


Frazer