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Specific Area Message Encoding


Specific Area Message Encoding, or SAME, is the technique the National Weather Service uses to direct weather watches and other EAS messages to certain geographical areas. Individuals with properly programmed SAME-capable radios only hear alerts that may directly impact them, thus cutting down on unecessary alarms.

There are about 650 NOAA Weather Radio stations around the US and each of these stations covers a radius of about 40 miles. Each site covers many counties. You may not want to be notified about an event that is taking place on the other side of a station’s coverage area. By using the specific code for your area, you limit when your weather radio sounds alerts to those alerts containing the SAME code you have programmed in to your receiver.

Recently the NWR also started broadcasting other types of Emergency Alert System (EAS) codes, a summary of this action can be found at the National Weather Service web site. The specific area code for your location (in the US or its possessions) can be found at this NOAA site.

Attention Scanner/Receiver Programmers

  • Discussion: Northern Ilinois NOAA Frequencies (Post 6:Important nws radio information) Thread
    • It is important to realize that just because you can receive a NWS radio frequency, does not mean that the frequency will broadcast alerts for your location.
    • On the NWS radio website, make sure that your county is listed in the "County Coverage" table with a SAME FIPS code. If it is not, the station will not alert you to warnings in your area, even though you can receive the station.
      • For example, this station provides reception to De Kalb and La Salle counties, but it does not broadcast alerts for those counties. So if your radio was to automatically stop on this station, you would miss emergency alerts, even if you had the appropriate De Kalb and La Salle codes entered. The appropriate NWS station for De Kalb county, for instance, is WNG536.
    • Therefore, it is important to lockout all other weather frequencies except for the one that carries the alerts for your county. Even then, be sure to test it to make sure it works.
    • The implementation varies somewhat between radios. On the Whistler scanners, the SAME-FIPS information is applicable only when you are in weather standby monitoring mode. This is when you press the weather button and then "SKIP." You should see "NOAA Weather," the frequency, and "SKIP = Normal" on the screen. Make sure the frequency listed on your display broadcasts SAME alerts for the counties you have programmed, or else your radio will not activate.
    • Just because you can receive a NWS weather station, does not mean that the station broadcasts warnings and alerts for your area.
    • NOAA Weather Radio - Map State Selection

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