Overnight threat of tornadoes: here’s how to receive weather alerts that will wake you up

NWS recommends you have 2 or more ways to see weather warnings

NOAA Radio, phone, television, internet

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are several ways to receive severe weather warnings, fro watching television, to listening to the radio, to apps on your phone. With the threat of tornadoes overnight tonight, we wanted to make sure you have your settings configured so that you will wake up if you are under a Tornado Warning.


When a Tornado Warning is issued, we will cut into programming and stay on the air until the danger passes. This is great for once you know a warning has been issued, you can turn on the television and see where the tornado is to make the decision whether you need to go to your safe room or not. This isn’t a great option as a tool to wake you up in the middle of the night. Also, this option isn’t available to most people when they lose electricity, which can happen in a severe storm.

Weather Radios

NOAA has a weather radio network that constantly broadcasts weather information on different frequencies per area.Below are the frequencies for our local weather radio networks.

Local frequencies to tune into

Weather Radios should be battery powered in the event of loss of electricity and also so you can take the radio with you when you move to your safe room. Some weather radios can be configured to sound alerts for certain warnings, like a tornado warning, which could be helpful to wake you up if you were in danger, but not alert you for less dangerous or applicable weather alerts, like Marine Warnings, etc.

NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio is a service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. As the “Voice of the National Weather Service”, it provides continuous broadcasts of the latest weather information from local National Weather Service offices. Weather messages are generally repeated every 5 to 10 minutes and are routinely updated every 1 to 3 hours or more frequently in rapidly changing weather conditions or if a nearby hazardous environmental condition exists.

The regular broadcasts are specifically tailored to weather information needs of the people within the local service area of the transmitter. For example, in addition to general weather information, stations in coastal areas provide information of interest to mariners. Other specialized information, such as hydrological forecasts and climatological data, may be broadcast.

During severe weather, National Weather Service forecasters issue special warning messages concerning imminent threats to life and property. Special signals are added to warnings that trigger alerting features of specially equipped receivers. In the simplest case, this signal activates audible or visual alarms, indicating that an emergency condition exists within the broadcast areas of the station being monitored and alerts the listener to turn up the volume and stay tuned for more information. More sophisticated receivers are automatically turned on and set to an audible volume when an alert is received.

The National Weather Service recently began using a new alert system called Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME). This new alert system employs digital coding to activate only specially programmed receivers for specific emergency conditions in a specific area, typically a county. Television, cable and radio stations can use SAME to allow their listeners to hear warnings as they are being issued. SAME is also the primary activator for the new Emergency Alert System which replaced the Emergency Broadcast System on January 1, 1997. Operations and Programming for NWR Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) contains information on how to program your NWR SAME receiver including SAME codes for every county/parrish/independent city. New programmable NOAA All Hazards Weather Radios are on the market now which utilize SAME technology. Here is a listing of all the SAME County Codes (FIPS Codes) used for the new SAME programmable NOAA All Hazards Weather Radios.

Where to purchase a SAME enabled weather radio

Special radios that receive only NOAA Weather Radio, both with and without the spacial alerting features (SAME), are available from several manufacturers. In addition, other manufacturers are including NOAA Weather Radio as special features on an increasing variety of receivers. NOAA Weather Radio capability is currently available on some automobile, aircraft, marine, citizen band, and standard AM/FM radios, as well as communications receivers, transceivers, scanners, and cable TV. Click here for more consumer information, including a list of some weather radio manufacturers.

How to program a SAME enabled weather radio

Instructions are specific to each brand and model of NOAA Weather Radio and are typically included in the box. Here are a few brands and models and instructional videos created by Ted Buehner from the National Weather Service in Seattle:

Reecom R-1630 and 1650 | Midland WR 100 | Midland WR 300 | First Alert WX-150 | First Alert WX-200

Apps on your phone

The News4JAX Weather Authority App has features that can alert you in the middle of the night if you are under a tornado warning. You can download the app here if you have an Apple device and here if you have an Android device. If you want to configure it so that the app will alert you audibly (wake you up) if you are under a tornado warning, first press the plus sign in the circle in the bottom right hand corner, then select “settings” from the menu that pops up. Toggle on “Allow Push Alerts” and “Sound Effects.” The app senses your location and will send you a push alert if your area goes under a severe weather alert. You’ll also get a couple of personalized push alerts during the day from the meteorologists of The Weather Authority updating you on the local forecast.

Texts on your phone

Some area counties offer text messages through programs like Code Red, but you would get a text if any area of your county underwent a warning, it is not specific to your location beyond your county. The local National Weather Service also offers text message warnings, but they are for the entire South Georgia/Northeastern Florida areas they forecast for.

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