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How to Choose the Right Weather Radio for You

January 20, 2021

Undoubtedly, you've heard the term weather band and weather alert radios before, and though many people group them together, they are very different. How do you choose the best weather radio for you?

Both types use the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio network, which is why many weather radios have the NOAA logo on the box. NOAA does not manufacture weather band or weather alert radios, but it does permit companies to use the NOAA logo on qualified radios capable of receiving the NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) emergency broadcast signal. The NOAA transmits severe weather, natural, technological and national emergency watches, warnings and post-event communications.

Since any weather radio in the United States is capable of picking up the NWR signal, choose your weather radio based on whether you want a weather alert or weather band model. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends every home and school have a weather alert radio. And for good reason…

Weather Band vs. Weather Alert Radio

Weather band radios have limitations during emergency situations. For example, they must be turned on and tuned to a local weather station for you to hear an alert. If the power goes out or you’re listening to your favorite music station (or not listening to the radio at all), you won’t hear the alert. Too many people buy weather band radios expecting to be alerted to severe weather no matter what. After getting annoyed by leaving the weather radio on all the time (or never turning it on in the first place), it gets shut off and thrown in the closet, where it can't give them a lifesaving warning.

Weather alert radios automatically sound a warning whenever an alert is issued, making it the best weather radio option in an emergency situation. Other functions like AM/FM listening are overridden when an alert is received while the weather alert radio temporarily tunes to NWR. Weather alert radios with back up battery power can alert you during power outages.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be aware of power outages in the middle of the night. It’s also unlikely that you listen to your local weather station 24/7. Weather alert radios hold a distinct advantage. All Midland weather radios are weather alert radios, not weather band radios, and carry the NOAA logo. Every single Midland weather radio will alert when the National Weather Service issues severe weather or other emergency advisories.

Best Weather Radio for You: Desktop, Portable, Emergency, or a Combination?

Midland weather alert radios are available in desktop, portable and emergency crankmodels. Desktop weather alert radios are best overall for home and office. Avid outdoors fans, campers, outdoor sports enthusiasts and those on the road should outfit themselves with portable weather alert radios.

Emergency crank weather alert radios are a must if you’re a hardcore camper, hunter or sportsman far away from electrical outlets for an extended period of time. Consider emergency crank models if you live in an area that experiences prolonged power outages or being snowed in.

Choosing the best weather radio is easier once you understand the differences between a weather alert radio and a weather band radio. After that it’s just a matter of choosing the type that best fits your lifestyle. For some, that requires a combination of two or three different types to protect themselves outdoors and indoors. For others, a desktop weather alert radio will suffice and there are models with AM/FM radio if you want to replace your old radio or weather band radio with one device.

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