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NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards

NWR Alarms

Part A: Operational Procedures
Part B: Messages Alarmed (including tests)


When there is a warning alarm tone on NWR, the following 4-step procedure is followed:

  1. A digital burst, called Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME), is broadcast with the type of message, the area affected ( usually by county), and the expiration time. Messaage last no more than 6 hours after the alert.
  2. The SAME burst is followed by a 10-second broadcast of the 1050 Hertz alarm tone.
  3. The voice message is broadcast describing the hazard, the area affected (usually by county), and the valid time period of the hazard. The message may include details such as storm movement, storm spotter reports, damage reports, and specific locations of greatest danger.
    • For short-fuse, immediate hazards, such as a tornado warning, the valid time period is from the time of the alert until the SAME message expiration time.
    • For longer-fuse hazards, such as a winter storm warning, the beginning of the valid time period may not be the same as the alerting broadcast time and the end of the valid time period may not be the same as the SAME message expiration time. In such cases, updated messages are broadcast on or before the SAME message expiration time. Updated messages are alerted only for new warning information.
  4. NWs issues a SAME end-of-alert digital burst for areas within the normal reception range or coverage area of a transmitter. The coverage area typically extends out to about 40 miles from the transmitter, assuming level terrain.Hills and mountains will reduce the coverage area.
    • Most NOAA Weather Radio receiver models can be set to a muted standby or alert mode, and will turn on when the alerting message is received. Depending on the receiver brand and model, the receiver will either be activated by the SAME code or the 1050 Hertz warning alarm tone. Upon activation, some receiver models may have a flashing light or other visual signal in addition to the 10-second 1050 Hertz warning alarm tone.
    • For receiver models activated by the 1050 Hertz tone, the receiver will activate whenever the tone is received.
    • For SAME-decoding receivers, owners program the county SAME codes for the county or counties for which they wish to be alerted.

B: MESSAGES ALARMED CLICK HERE for procedures on weekly alarm tests.

Only the most imminent life- and property-threatening hazards are broadcasted with both the SAME signal and 1050 Hertz warning alarm tone. These hazards should beAn operational guideline is that messages are alerted only for hazards urgent enough to warrant waking people up in the middle of the night. The following messages are always alerted with the 1050 Hertz arning alarm tone if they apply to any part of its coverage area:


  • Tornado Warning: TOR
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: SVR
  • Flash Flood Warning: FFW
  • Tornado Watch: TOA
  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: SVA
  • Hurricane Watch: HUA
  • Hurricane Warning: HUW
  • National Emergency Action notification: EAN

The following messages are sometimes alerted if they apply to the coverage area of the transmitter, depending on the circumstances and the area of the country. Check with the National Weather Service programming office of the NWR transmitter:


  • Flash Flood Watch: FFA
  • Winter Storm Warning: WSW
  • High Wind Warning: HWW
  • Tsunami Watch: TSA
  • Tsunami Warning: TSW
  • Flood Watch: FLA
  • Flood Warning: FLW
  • Special Marine Warnings: SMW
  • Civil Emergency Message: CEM

NOAA, National Weather Service
Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services
1325 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Questions, Comments?
Last Updated: March 24, 2014

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