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How to Program a Weather Radio’s S.A.M.E. Code for Local Weather Alerts

Midland’s desktop NOAA weather radios can be programmed to receive alerts for a SINGLE county, or for MULTIPLE counties. We generally suggest you set the radio to alert for your SINGLE home county. Remember, the more counties you program into the radio, the more the radio goes off.

Current state-of-the-art weather radios in the US and Canada allow for precise tracking of storm movement and intensity. When a severe thunderstorm shows sign of exiting a nearby county and entering yours, your weather radio will be automatically activated before that storm even reaches your county line. On average, lead time on severe thunderstorm warnings is approximately 22 minutes, and tornado warning lead times are around 13 minutes. With just your SINGLE home county selected you should be able to receive warnings in plenty of time.

How to Program a Weather Radio’s S.A.M.E. Code for Your County’s Weather

map of noaa weather coverage based on noaa same codes

This guide is tailored for how to program a Midland WR120 weather radio. Want to learn more about weather radios — check out our complete NOAA weather radio guide.

Who should program MULTIPLE counties?

  • I live right on the county line
  • I own property in an adjoining county
  • I have family in an adjoining county
  • I work in, or commute through an adjoining county

In this case, access the SET LOCATION menu, press SELECT, and arrow up to choose MULTIPLE, which will allow you to program your radio to receive alerts for MULTIPLE counties. Note the counties you choose must be counties that are served by the same weather radio transmitter you are monitoring via the SET CHANNEL menu. Go to this website to see if the counties you choose are served by your local transmitter:

https://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/coverage/county_coverage.html

Sometimes you must pass on the option to add another county if it’s too far away and its warnings broadcast from a different transmitter. You could program that county into the radio, but you would never receive its warnings because it’s served by a different transmitter.

 

For MULTIPLE counties, always program your home county first.

  • Press MENU, then arrow up to SET LOCATION.
  • Press SELECT.
  • Arrow up to MULTIPLE and press SELECT.
  • When “01 SAME” appears on the screen, press SELECT.
  • Arrow up to USA or CANADA, then press SELECT.
  • Now arrow up or down through the alphabetical listing of states or provinces. Scroll through to find your home county and press SELECT.
  • After this, you can program further counties into positions “02 SAME”, “03 SAME”, etc. by extending this programming process.

By programming your home county first, you allow yourself the option to turn off the extra counties by changing from MULTIPLE setting to SINGLE setting.

If warnings for your multiple counties become bothersome, go to menu option SET LOCATION, press SELECT, then arrow up to SINGLE and press SELECT. You have now told the radio to ignore extra counties and just alert you for the first county you programmed. Your home county.

 

The radios accept 25 county codes in slots labeled “01 SAME” to “25 SAME”. There are no transmitters that serve that many counties, so if you are set on hearing everything for every county around you, use SET LOCATION and choose the ANY option. Programming the ANY setting makes the radio go off for any county the transmitter is alerting. This ANY option may be useful when you travel and are unsure of what county you are in, or if camping in the mountains and monitoring for possible upstream flash flooding. Otherwise, ANY is a rarely-used setting as it leads to over-warning and resultant fatigue. Keep your county selection to the bare minimum and turn to SINGLE if your MULTIPLE counties become a nuisance.

 

What about the NEARBY option that pops up when programming counties #2,3,4, etc? If you are programming MULTIPLE counties, after you fill slot 01 SAME with the name of your home location and press SELECT, “02 SAME” appears indicating the radio is ready to accept your second county. Press SELECT and the word NEARBY appears. Pressing SELECT once more will activate the NEARBY function, bringing up a list of the counties immediately surrounding yours. Arrow up through these counties and press SELECT to add a county. 03 SAME will then appear, allowing you to repeat this process and add a third county if you like. Confirm your final county by pressing SELECT, then press MENU to exit this MULTIPLE county programming feature. If the MULTIPLE county you want does not appear in the NEARBY list, press MENU, then SELECT. When NEARBY appears, press the up arrow until USA or CANADA appears. From this point, use the basic programming steps to add another county: SELECT your state, then SELECT your county.

 

How to program in extra counties for summer vacation homes and cabins:

The MULTIPLE feature is handy if you want to set up the radio to take it with you to Florida for the winter. Or to your summer cabin up north.

  • Press MENU, then arrow up to SET LOCATION.
  • Press SELECT.
  • Arrow up to MULTIPLE, and press SELECT.
  • When 01 SAME appears, press SELECT.
  • Choose your home location (USA/CANADA…STATE/PROVINCE…). When you’ve found your home county, press SELECT.
  • The radio’s display will show 02 SAME, and this is where you enter the county location of your vacation home. If it’s in Florida, access the Florida sub-menu and choose your county. Press SELECT, then press MENU to exit. Your radio will now alert you for your home county when you’re home, and for your vacation county when you take the radio with you. IMPORTANT: Make sure when you get to your vacation county you adjust SET CHANNEL to inform the radio which transmitter it should be listening to in your vacation county. Again, access this site to see which transmitters serve which US counties:

https://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/coverage/county_coverage.html

 

In Canada, access:

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/weatheradio/find-your-network.html

You cannot use this radio to monitor Florida weather from your Michigan home, or vice versa. Weather radio transmitters serve only an 80-mile radius and their broadcasts are unavailable outside that range. Take the radio with you when you go, and if you have properly programmed SET LOCATION and SET CHANNEL, you will get your weather alerts for your vacation county just as you would get them at home for your home county.