NOAA weather station.

  • #1
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I live about 2 miles away from the NOAA weather station in South Jersey. This covers all of NJ, northern Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania and southern New York. Today they had an open house. There were some Air Force soldiers doing a demonstration of their portable weather station and handheld weather stations. There was a tour of the NOAA station as well.

He showed us a doppler readout taken at the time that a couple of local kids died from a falling tree. You could clearly see a patch of strong wind blowing away from the radar side by side with another patch blowing toward the radar. This is a recipe for a tornado, but according to the guide, the two patches weren't close enough to create one.

Everything is computerized now. If they want to issue a warning, it takes them seconds to send a coded message to all listeners. Listeners are radio and TV broadcasters and other private entities. The message consists of data points that describe the condition that caused the warning to go out. Listeners can determine whether the message is intended for their clients and can use the data in the message to create a natural language version for end users. We were told that serious warnings are sent to every cell phone in the danger area. I have never received such a message though.
 

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  • #2
Evo
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We were told that serious warnings are sent to every cell phone in the danger area. I have never received such a message though.
It appears to be a new system that is being implemented, but not quite there yet.

http://www.informationweek.com/government/mobile/wireless-emergency-alert-system-goes-liv/240002942 [Broken]
 
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  • #3
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I get little warning texts from my school every once in a while. A couple years ago I think I got some about severe weather.

It certainly would be cool if these sorts of warnings could get out really quickly to the people that they are going to affect. Of course, this requires us to keep our cellphones handy at all times. But I guess that just means leave it in your pocket.
 
  • #4
russ_watters
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NWS Mount Holly, NJ sends me text messages. I'm not sure if they select by phone # (area code) or cell tower serving me -- I'd think by tower.
 
  • #5
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NWS Mount Holly, NJ sends me text messages. I'm not sure if they select by phone # (area code) or cell tower serving me -- I'd think by tower.
I went back to the weather station to follow up on this. For one thing, both NOAA and NWS are in the same building and I don't know where the line is drawn between them. The sign on the building says NWS. The fellow there told me that they sent out two tornado warnings in the past month. Perhaps that's what you got. However, he told me that the message is not a text message, but a dedicated feature of the phone. That's a good thing. I have a go plan so I have to pay for text messages. Imagine having your life saved by a warning message only to be hit with a 10 cent bill after it's over. My cell phone is very old, rotary dial type so I wouldn't have received any of these. Also, as you surmised, it's by tower and the warnings were for Camden county and for southern Burlington county. Since I'm in central Burlington county it's not for sure I would have gotten the message. Also, you have to be in range of the tower when the warning goes out. If you are too far, you won't get the message. They only warn on the phone for a small subset of the kinds of things they warn for on their web site and through other media. That's because they don't want to goad people into turning the feature off.
 
  • #6
russ_watters
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I went back to the weather station to follow up on this. For one thing, both NOAA and NWS are in the same building and I don't know where the line is drawn between them.
NWS is a department of NOAA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Weather_Service
The fellow there told me that they sent out two tornado warnings in the past month. Perhaps that's what you got.
Actually, they were flood warnings. One was within the past month, the other I think two months ago. Not sure if the history is saved on my phone, but I'll check...
However, he told me that the message is not a text message, but a dedicated feature of the phone.
Right -- the alert pops up with a red cross symbol in the taskbar and looks like a pop-up advertisement. First time I got one, I thought it might be a trick because I hadn't heard of it before.... But I think it is still SMS based.
That's a good thing. I have a go plan so I have to pay for text messages. Imagine having your life saved by a warning message only to be hit with a 10 cent bill after it's over.
Dunno -- I suspect it is still SMS based, but either way, it isn't that hard for the phone company to choose not to bill you for a text from a certain number. They already do that with 911 calls (they are required to).

This implies they are SMS (text) based: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=crh&storyid=83063&source=0
Also, as you surmised, it's by tower and the warnings were for Camden county and for southern Burlington county. Since I'm in central Burlington county it's not for sure I would have gotten the message. Also, you have to be in range of the tower when the warning goes out. If you are too far, you won't get the message. They only warn on the phone for a small subset of the kinds of things they warn for on their web site and through other media. That's because they don't want to goad people into turning the feature off.
When I got the alert, I was at work -- the guy in the next cube over didn't, but he has a different provider, so the tower was probably in a different location. We were a few miles from the center of the alert area.
 
  • #7
collinsmark
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