Weather Radios and Warning Changes Help You Stay Informed

Posted at 12:04 PM, May 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-21 18:11:43-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — After the killer tornadoes in Oklahoma Sunday and Monday, many in West Michigan may be wondering about the best way to stay informed about severe weather warnings.

The backbone of any severe weather preparedness kit should be a NOAA Weather Radio; you can buy them at most electronics stores.  It’s a way to give you peace of mind so you can be prepared for any weather emergency.

Northeast Grand Rapids Radio Shack manager Scott Romain says he decided to put the weather radios on display at the front counter Monday, knowing severe weather could be on the way.

“What better idea than putting displays out, letting people know that we have the products, so they can be informed?” Romain said.

While some people may think of a weather radio as an annoyance, he says advances in technology helps to cut down on false alarms and keep the radio from going off constantly during thunderstorms.

“We can actually set it up in the store, or you can do it at home, where it will only do the counties that you’re interested in.”

And there are some changes this year to what you’ll hear when that weather radio wakes you up.  A new system of “impact-based warnings” is designed to help the National Weather Service and broadcasters more clearly communicate the severe weather threat.

Now, a warning may include specific tags that will tell you whether a tornado is radar-indicated or confirmed on the ground; and whether the threat of damage is higher than usual using terms like “considerable” or “catastrophic.”

So when that alarm sounds, you’ll know in more detail what sort of weather is approaching.

There are all kinds of different weather radios at various prices and with various features.  Regardless of what brand or quality you choose, make sure the radio features the “NOAA All-Hazards” label and “SAME technology.”  SAME is the feature that allows you to program the radio for a given location.

Click here for the National Weather Service’s official guide to NOAA Weather Radio.