How to find NOAA SAME County Codes
If you have the right kind of Weather Alert Radio, you will be able to set it up so that you only receive alerts that are likely to directly affect you. This will eliminate a lot of alerts that won’t concern you directly, so you’ll know that if an alarm does go off the alert will probably be about something that’s important.
To do this, you will need to know the SAME Codes for your county and those close to it. SAME stands for Specific Area Message Encoding
These codes are also sometimes called NOAA County codes, SAME weather codes and weather radio codes. The important thing to keep in mind is that they are administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA – and are part of its National Weather Radio (NWR) service.
To program your radio, you will need the manual which came with the radio, and you will need to know the 6 digit SAME Code for the county or city you live in. You should add a few others, particularly those in the direction from which dangerous weather usually comes from.
So where do you find the correct codes?
Start off by going here – http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/indexnw.htm You’ll find a table of US States. Click on your state and you will see a list of all the counties, and next to them you will see the SAME code. Make a note of this, and then program your radio.
Some counties are listed more than once. This means that some parts of the county will receive a better signal from a different transmitter than other parts. Pick the best SAME code to suit where you live, or as a backup, use both. You can also find the SAME code for neighboring counties and you can program these into your radio as well – most radios with SAME will let you add quite a few counties to the program
This list assumes that a clear signal will be received within 40 miles of the transmitter over level ground.
In some areas, rugged landscapes may limit reception of a clear signal from any transmitter – if this applies to your county there will be a mention of this in another column in the table, but if you live in a valley behind a high range of hills between you and the transmitter, you may not be able to receive a signal at all.
Once everything is set up, you can be confident that you’ll receive plenty of notice of any developing weather emergency. You can check that everything is working by listening for the regular test transmissions between 10am and noon each Wednesday. Tests may also be run if there is a threat building for severe weather in the listening area, such as developing storms or an approaching hurricane that might require an alert to be broadcast later in the day.
NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) Frequencies.
When you look up the tables to find the SAME codes for your area, you may notice that the radio frequencies will be different for different codes. NOAA Weather Radio uses 7 frequencies in what is often called the Weather Band. If you have a weather radio, you can find these frequencies using the tuning dial or search function. Radios programmed with the SAME code are automatically linked to transmitters using these frequencies.
These seven frequencies are used by NWR to broadcast official severe weather warnings and watches together with normal weather forecasts. Other hazard warnings and information are also broadcast on this VHF (very high frequency) public service band, sometimes called the Weather Band.
Weather Alert Radios will receive all these frequencies, which are located at
- 162.525 and
- 162.550 MHz.
As you can see, they are separated by 0.025 MHz intervals.
If you have a Weather Alert Radio that works with SAME Codes, you will know the best frequency to use in your area. If you have push button program on your radio you can set one of the buttons to the frequency.
If your radio doesn’t accept the SAME system, use the tuning dial or search on your Weather Alert Radio to find the clearest signal from the frequencies in this band, and use a button to program that one.
What sort of warnings will you receive?
Most warnings will be about developing severe weather, but any emergency may be covered, including wildfires, volcanic activity, earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as man made hazards such as chemical and oil spills. The Weather Radio Service is also integrated with the Emergency Alert System as well as Amber alerts concerning things such as child abduction.
The Weather radio transmits 24 hours a day, and provides up to date forecasts unless an alert is being transmitted. Alerts take two forms – watch and warning.
The system works by an alert interrupting a radio program, or activating your radio if it is in standby mode. A siren will sound and a voice message will be transmitted. Depending on which Weather Alert Radio you have, the warning may be reinforced by flashing lights, and color coded lights may show what kind of alert is being broadcast.
A Watch alert lets you know if forecasters believe that some form of severe weather is possible in your area. The severe weather may be hours away, maybe a day or days in the case of floods, hurricanes or winter storms, and you will have time to prepare.
A Warning tells you that severe weather is imminent, and in the case of tornados and severe storms, may have been observed in your area. You should take immediate protective action.
Weather radio will also tell you when the risk has decreased to the point where it is no longer a danger, but the siren will not sound in this case