Important NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards and Emergency Alert System Changes
NWS changes effective for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season
The Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) added three new Event Codes to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) Rulesfor the 2017 hurricane season. NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is the primary means for NWS alerts to activate the EAS.
The new EAS Rules and new NWS policy adopt the following weather Event Codes for both EAS and NWR:
Extreme Wind Warning
Event Code /EWW/
The Extreme Wind Warning is issued for advance notice of sustained surface wind speeds of 115 miles per hour or greater in association with major hurricanes. Extreme Wind Warnings are issued by all coastal NWS
Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) in Southern Region and Eastern Region, including WFO San Juan, and the following inland WFOs:
Albany (NY), Atlanta, Birmingham, Blacksburg, Columbia, Fort Worth, Greenville Spartanburg, Jackson (MS), Raleigh, San Antonio and Shreveport.
NWS will request EAS activations using the EWW Event Code /EWW/. NWS will broadcast on NWR and disseminate using the Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) and 1050 Hz warning alarm tones.
Storm Surge Watch
Event Code /SSA/
For the Gulf and East coasts, NWS will issue the Storm Surge Watch for the possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland within the specified area, generally within 48 hours, associated with a tropical, subtropical, or post-tropical cyclone. NWS may issue this watch earlier when conditions, such as tropical storm-force winds, could reduce the time available for protective actions, such as evacuations. NWS also may issue a watch for locations not expected to receive life-threatening inundation but could potentially be isolated by inundation in adjacent areas.
NWS will broadcast Storm Surge Watches on NWR. WFOs may request EAS activation for the Storm Surge Watch when this has been incorporated into state and local EAS plans.
Storm Surge Warning
Event Code /SSW/
For the Gulf and East coasts, NWS will issue the Storm Surge Warning for the danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland within the specified area, generally within 36 hours, associated with a tropical, subtropical or post-tropical cyclone
NWS may issue a warning early when other conditions, such as the onset of tropical storm-force winds, are expected to reduce the time available to take protective actions, such as evacuations. NWS may also issue this warning for locations not expected to receive life-threatening inundation but could potentially be isolated by inundation in adjacent areas.
WFOs will request EAS activation using the SSW Event Code. NWS will broadcast Storm Surge Warnings on NWR and disseminate using the SAME and 1050 Hz warning alarm tones.
Local NWS offices are now reaching out to their respective State and Local Emergency Communications Committees, state emergency management agencies and broadcaster associations to answer questions
and assist with the implementing the new Event Codes. To keep you updated about watch, warning and EAS changes in your area, your local WFO may issue Public Information Statements and Service Change Notices,
update web pages, and air Public Service Announcements over NWR.
Broadcasters’ EAS encoder/decoder equipment must be updated to implement the new Event Codes, generally through firmware and/or software updates. Broadcasters in geographic areas potentially impacted by tropical cyclones should contact their EAS equipment manufacturer if they need instructions for updating equipment. If EAS equipment is not updated and the WFO
requests EAS activation using the new Event Codes, the EAS encoder/decoder equipment will usually decode the information received as an “UNKNOWN” Event Code and the EAS will not automatically activate.
Existing SAME receivers, including Public AlertTM receivers, will process the new event codes. For those receivers providing a limited, caption-like message display, the receiver will likely show wording such as “UNKNOWN WATCH” or “UNKNOWN WARNING;” however, NWR SAME and Public AlertTM receivers should activate. NWR tone alert receivers should activate with the 1050 Hz tone for the warnings. NWS Headquarters will work with the receiver manufacturers to ensure the new codes are added to newly
manufactured receivers. Please direct any dissemination questions to Tim Schott, NWS Dissemination Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-427-9336; policy questions to Jessica Schauer,
NWS Tropical Services Program Leader, at email@example.com or 305-229-4476;
or contact the Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM) at your local WFO for more detailed information. WCM contact information is provided at: www.stormready.noaa.gov/contact.shtml
NWS Home Page: www.weather.gov/
National Hurricane Center: www.nhc.noaa.gov/
NHC Frequently Asked Questions: www.nhc.noaa.gov/easfaq/
NWR Home Page: www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/
NWS EAS Information www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/info/eas_description.html