A study by Northern Illinois University scientists in 2008 revealed the danger of nighttime tornadoes, especially in the southern part of the USA, which is where we live. In fact, our great state of North Carolina ranks first in the nation for the percentage of people killed by nighttime tornadoes: since 1950, 82% of all tornado-related fatalities in North Carolina occurred at night. Most (but not all) of these deaths occurred when people were either outdoors, or in cars, or in mobile homes. My concern is that I may be sound asleep when a killer tornado comes knocking on my door. So I set out to figure out a way to prepare for this possibility. Here’s what I learned, in a nutshell.
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is a branch of the US government that “enriches life through science.” Through their National Weather Service, they are the agency that issues alerts about dangerous weather. This includes severe storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, extreme heat, winter storms, fire threats, tsunamis and solar flares. Working with the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Alert System, the NOAA broadcasts official severe weather warnings through the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) service, a nationwide network of 1,000 radio stations covering all 50 states, using seven distinct frequencies in the VHF public service band. NWR requires a special receiver to pick up these frequencies.
These “special receivers” are known as weather radios. You can do a Google or eBay search to see many examples of these radios. After exploring what they can do, I have decided to purchase a Kaito KA450 weather radio. It solves my problem.
I can leave it plugged in, in a silent standby mode. If any of the severe weather conditions I mentioned above were to happen in my area, the radio would automatically turn on (a key feature of NWR/weather radios) and start broadcasting the emergency warning at whatever volume I had previously set. In this way, it could wake me up and warn me of a tornado in the middle of the night!
If the weather emergency were to include a power outage, no problem. The radio’s rechargeable battery would have been charged by electricity before the power went out! This particular radio can also be charged by hand crank, by regular batteries, and by solar power, allowing additional uses in other disaster situations.
I’ll sleep a little easier at night, especially on those nights when the weather is already suspicious!