Radio hour brings weather readiness across borders

Date Posted: February 12, 2014
NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley Forecaster Maria Torres with Pastor Abiel Ake at the Radio Esperanza studios in Edinburg, Texas

To expand its reach to the local Spanish-speaking community, the National Weather Service Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley, Texas, forecast office has begun a collaboration with Radio Esperanza KOIR 88.5- FM and KRIO 97.7-FM/910-AM, a Christian non–profit radio network with extensive coverage that includes Laredo, the Rio Grande Valley, and much of northeastern Mexico. 

Once each month, NWS Forecaster Maria Torres takes the microphone to participate in “La Hora Comunitaria” (Community Hour), a Spanish–language interview and call-in program. Torres provides information to help prepare the local Hispanic community for hazardous weather and teach them about our mission to build a Weather-Ready Nation. The broadcasts are scheduled to continue through the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season and beyond. 

“There are a lot of non–English speakers across the Rio Grande Valley who may not take preparedness seriously,” said Torres. “Some do not know the services NWS provides. What better way to share this valuable information than with radio listeners across the Rio Grande Valley and northeast Mexico who cross the border every day.” 

Torres conducted her inaugural broadcast in November 2013. She explained the NWS structure and functions, and then focused on Winter Weather Awareness Day in Texas and how to prepare for hazards, such as freezing temperatures, wind chill, and fog. Her second broadcast described NWS field operations and the difference between watches and warnings. Future broadcasts will focus on additional topics, including the new NOAA Weather RadioSpanish Language transmitters set to debut in 2014. 

Radio Esperanza has a large footprint in Mexico. By day, transmitters in Starr and Hidalgo County, Texas, cover the entire Rio Grande Valley, the Ranchlands south of Laredo, and border cities and towns in northern Tamaulipas State in Mexico. At night, coverage on KRIO 910–AM typically reaches well into Tamaulipas and Nuevo Léon. On some nights, Radio Esperanza KRIO 910–AM can reach nearly all of eastern Mexico, including the Yucatán Peninsula, more than 700 miles away. Spotty coverage has been received in Guatemala and Honduras, nearly 1000 miles away. The station also has a large and growing social media presence. In mid- December 2013, more than 25 thousand followers were on their Facebook Page.