GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- Today we often rely on cell phones, televisions and iPads for our information, but only the NOAA weather radio is loud enough to wake you up during a severe weather emergency in the middle of the night. Some even are programmed to broadcast the alerts, even when the radio itself is turned off, so you'll be sure to get the information.
The alerts come from the National Weather Service offices, and include forecasts, severe weather alerts, and even natural disaster information for things like earthquakes and avalanches. Towers provide coverage for most of Minnesota. Just north of Bemidji, however, you may have trouble finding reception.
"If you don't want to be warned for storms a hundred miles away you don't have to be," explains Todd Krause, Warning Coordinator Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
Thanks to SAME technology, which stands for Specific Alert Message Encoding, you can program your weather radio to only broadcast alerts that are specific to you.
Krause adds, "You can set it so that you're alarmed for just the one county that you're in."
You can find a list of codes for each Minnesota county via the National Weather Service website. For example, Hennepin County is coded 027053.
Some advanced models may require you to look up the SAME codes and type them in yourself, but this ability can allow you to choose alerts for more than one location - your home and perhaps your cabin or a relative's house also.
Each model is different, so be sure to ask questions when you purchase a weather radio to make sure it has the abilities you desire. While the National Weather Service doesn't endorse any one manufacturer, they do suggest buying a product with the Public Alert logo on it. This logo means that the radio is equipped to turn on for an alert, even if you have the device turned off.
Weather radios can cost anywhere between $20 - $200 and are sold at virtually every hardware and electronics store in the area. Some smartphone apps can give the NOAA weather radio broadcasts, but these products may not necessarily wake you up, or work when your smartphone is turned off or the battery is dead.
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