How To Program A Weather Radio To Receive Local Alerts

How To Program A Weather Radio To Receive Local Alerts

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One of the best ways to stay ahead of a storm or tornado is by using a weather radio. But these devices need some prepping to be ready for use in your location. 

Today we will take a look at how to program your weather radio to do things like receive local alerts. Keeping ahead of weather updates from local warnings on your radio will protect you and your loved ones!

What You Need

All you need is your weather radio and its components for the programming counties into the device. get the following ready:

  • Your weather radio. 
  • Batteries
  • Backup batteries.
  • Bigger antenna (optional).

There are several models for weather radio you can choose from, such as Midland 74-210 and Oregon Scientific WR-108. But a Midland NOAA Weather Radio in WR-400 is better for first-time users. 

This model features an easy setup where you don’t need to program in the SAME country code. Just select your state and county and press “ENTER.”

A bigger antenna may be optional for countries with difficult reception. You can find them in your local radio store. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Programming Your Weather Radio

The instructions for programming your weather radio for local alerts vary according to the model.

You may consult your Owner’s Manual for specific controls and steps or follow the general guidelines. Here’s how. 

1. Prepare Your Backup Battery and Other Devices.


Even though your weather radio has fresh batteries inside, you still need backup batteries so that your device survives power outages during storms. Or prepare your AC power connection to preserve the battery backup.

The whip antenna on your receiver may not be enough if you’re in a remote area.

It would be great if you had an external antenna jack for good reception, typically in the back of the unit. Purchase a bigger antenna from the store you got your radio and connect it to the jack. 

Lastly, install the batteries into the compartment for batteries. Some radios, such as the Midland WR400, require 4 AA batteries. I’d recommend using rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for the best results.

2. Set Up Your Weather Radio.

A small menu will automatically appear if it’s your first time operating the weather radio. But for previous users, you’ll have to select the “MENU” button and then press the up and down arrows. 

Press “ENTER” to change the settings, such as language, location, and channel. Other weather station radios use “SELECT” instead of “ENTER.”

3. Change the Language

Select a language once the “SELECT LANGUAGE” menu option appears on display. Pick your preferred language by pressing “ENTER” and pressing the arrows. Once you found your preferred language, press “ENTER” once again.

4. Set the Location.

Severe Weather Map Forecast

Unprogrammed devices have “01 EMPTY” on their display to indicate that you haven’t set the location. Choose your location by pressing “ENTER” again and navigating through the arrow keys. Then, change the “SINGLE” setting to receive alerts for a single county.

Now select your country with the same arrows and the “ENTER” button. It will lead you to choose your state and county. Finally, press “ENTER” again and wait for the receiver to take you to the next step. 

Other models, including the Midland 74-210, are harder to program because you need to enter county codes before selecting the weather radio frequencies. Rotate the “SEARCH” wheel until you find the six-digit code for your area. 

If you don’t know the code for county selection, refer to the National Weather Service’s guide. Once you found the code, press “ENTER”.

5. Set Multiple Locations.

If you wish to get notifications for a bigger area, use the “MULTIPLE” or “ALL” options. If you are on the county border, using the “MULTIPLE” option makes sense. It will allow you to program the unit for the nearby county for severe weather events.

After selecting “ENTER,” use the up and down arrows to select the country, state, and counties. Once you have set all the essential areas, press “ENTER.”

The “ALL” feature covers a much bigger area. It’s ideal for first responders and emergency managers only.  

If the alerts for multiple counties have become annoying, go back to the single mode by hitting the location option. Press the arrow to be single and select “ENTER.”

6. How to Program in Extra Counties for Cabins and Vacation Homes.


You can also use the “MULTIPLE” feature if you want to take your Midland NOAA weather radio with you to your vacation county. This instruction is specifically for the MIDLAND WR-120 weather radio. 

First, press “MENU” and “SET LOCATION.” After entering, select “MULTIPLE” and “01 SAME”. Choose your home location then the location of your vacation home for “02 SAME”. Do the same for the extra counties you want to add.    

If you’re already in your vacation home, use the “SET CHANNEL” menu to let the radio know which transmitter it should listen to in your county.

7. Change the Time.

After setting the location for local alerts, head to the “SET TIME” menu. A “SETTING HOUR” option will appear when you enter, which will lead you to use the arrows and adjust. Setting the correct time will help you stay updated about any severe weather situation.

Press the right arrow buttons so the display exits from the time settings. The radio will lead you to a “SETTING MINUTES” menu, where you set the minute with the up and down arrows. Press “ENTER” once you’re done. 

8. Set the Channel.

radio frequency

Extend your antenna and pick a channel once the “SET CHANNEL” option appears on your screen. Navigate up and down for the local frequency and press “ENTER.” 

You can choose from The Weather Service’s list of nationwide broadcast frequencies to select the correct channel. They include:

  • 400 MHz.
  • 425 MHz.
  • 475 MHz.
  • 500 MHz.
  • 525 MHz.
  • 550 MHz.

9.  Choose an Alert Type.

To choose an alert type, press the “MENU” button then use the up arrow to choose the “ALERT TYPE.” Once you’ve entered, use the up arrow again to choose between “DISPLAY,” “VOICE,” and “TONE.” Lastly, press “ENTER” and “MENU” to exit.

10. Know the PIL Codes.

Storm Watch

Weather radio models use four primary codes for dangerous weather alerts. They are TOR, SVR, FFW, and WSW.

TOR stands for TORNADO WATCH, which the Storm Prediction Center issued. This alert refers to favorable conditions for the development of tornadoes in the county location. Authorities publish it for about four to eight hours to inform people about what’s happening.

A TORNADO WATCH is similar to a TORNADO WARNING, which is the term that WSR-88D uses. Tornado warnings may occur even without a tornado watch, and they occur for about thirty minutes. 

The Storm Prediction Center also issues SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH when the conditions indicate an upcoming thunderstorm. During the watch, individuals should prepare for the safety rules and move out for safety.

The SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING is the warning that the WSR-88D radar indicates for thunderstorm alerts. If you receive this warning, seek safe shelter right away because the storm can lead to a tornado without notice.

11. Test Your Weather Radio.

You can now test your weather radio. Test it out by pressing the “WEATHER/HAZARD” and using the volume wheel to volume up or down to a specific level. 

Take note of the other controls of your weather radio. Most units include a WEATHER BAR, which is the ON button. An ALERT SWITCH also allows you to enable or disable the warning signals. 

Use the WATCH LIGHT or WARNING LIGHT to check if you received a SAME message for a watch or warning. Lastly, the STATEMENT LIGHT is for receiving the SAME message for a statement in your county.

12. Disable the Warning Code Alert.

You can also turn off the warning code alert. For a Midland 74-210, press the “PROGRAM” key and rotate the “SEARCH” wheel until your preferred option shows up. Hit “ENTER” so your radio will stop generating alarms once the listed event is issued. 

In Conclusion

Did you enjoy reading this article? Did to follow our steps in programming your weather radio for local alerts? 

Setting the location for your weather radio can save your life by warning you in advance before an extreme weather event occurs. Knowledge is power! Staying informed will help you make proactive decisions for your safety. 

Share your experiences and tips about using a weather radio in the comments below! We’ll be glad to learn from you. And for more great info, check out our guide to the best home weather stations.

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