UPDATE: Weather Radio Disconnected

UPDATE April 30, 2022: We had to disconnect the weather radio temporarily due to the radio picking up the broadcast radio station and carrying the signal into the repeater audio. We are researching the issue, and hope to have a solution as soon as possible. We also are aware the weather radio is only sounding an alert tone when a warning is received and not transmitting the warning message. We are investigating this as well.

Original post below from April 24, 2022

I’m excited to announce that we now have a NOAA weather radio connected to the W5OLA repeater. This integration will allow the repeater to transmit severe weather warnings that affect the coverage area of the repeater.

We have programmed the weather radio to alert the repeater when any of the following warnings are issued for the counties indicated below. These warnings will cause the repeater to play an alert tone for approximately eight seconds, followed immediately by the familiar voice of NOAA weather radio reading the text of the severe weather statement.

Alert Types

  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning
  • Tornado Warning
  • Flash Flood Warning
  • Fire Warning
  • Winter Storm Warning
  • Evacuation Emergencies
  • Weekly required tests

Counties Covered in Arkansas

  • Yell County
  • Perry County
  • Pope County
  • Logan County
  • Scott County
  • Montgomery County
  • Conway County
  • Garland County
map of Arkansas counties, with highlighting around the following counties: Yell, Scott, Logan, Pope, Conway, Perry, Garland and Montgomery.
The W5OLA will transmit NOAA weather radio warnings for the highlighted counties.

The weather radio is not programmed to alert for watches or advisories – only for warnings. Remember that warnings are issued when there is an immediate threat, so pay attention if you hear the repeater retransmit a weather statement.

Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Take shelter in a substantial building. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a large hail or damaging wind identified by an NWS forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm.”

– National Weather Service (https://www.weather.gov/safety/thunderstorm-ww)

The eight counties above were selected based on their proximity to the coverage area of the repeater. While you may not live in one of these counties, other people in range of the repeater do. Also, severe weather often travels from west to east, or southwest to northeast. So, if you live in one of the counties on the east side of the map, weather currently affecting one of western counties is likely to affect you in the near future. So, take heed of the extra advance warning.

You might be wondering, “Is this legal? Doesn’t the FCC Part 97 rules prohibit “broadcasting” one-way communications? Isn’t it illegal to retransmit non-amateur radio station signals?” The answer to all three of these questions is yes! How can that be possible?

The details are in Part 97.113 “Prohibited Transmissions”. According to 97.113(b), amateur radio stations are prohibited from broadcasting one-way messages to the general public, “except as specifically provided in these rules.” Transmitting one-way messages is specifically permitted when “directly related to the immediate safety of human life or the protection of property.”

Part 97.113(c) states “No station shall retransmit programs or signals emanating from any type of radio station other than an amateur station, except propagation and weather forecast information intended for use by the general public and originated from United States Government stations…” NOAA weather radio is a government service and is thereby permissible to be retransmitted.

I hope that severe weather never affects our area, and that we never hear the weather radio through the repeater. However, severe weather is a fact of life in Arkansas. The best we can do is to take every precaution and be as prepared as possible when severe weather does affect our area.

If you hear anything unexpected from the weather radio via the repeater, please reach out to me, W5HRP, as soon as possible with as many details as possible so that we can make necessary adjustments.

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