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Why Can’t I Find “Tornado Warning” Alert on My Weather Radio?

Types of natural disasters vary across the country. Someone who lives in Des Moines, Iowa more than likely doesn’t need tsunami warnings just like someone who lives Miami, Florida probably won’t need an avalanche warning. With nearly 80 selectable alerts and warnings, you can customize your Midland weather alert radio to suit your needs and surrounding weather patterns. Midland NOAA weather radios–models WR120, WR300, and WR400–allow you to deselect certain watch/warning/advisory alerts. When turned off those event warnings will not create an audible alert when issued by the NOAA. However, there are several alerts including the tornado warning alert that cannot be disabled.

Why You Can’t Find or Disable the Tornado Warning Alert on Your Weather Radio

three midland noaa weather radios displaying tornado warning alert

Many people choose to silence alerts such as Amber Alerts, and when they access the programming menu they’re surprised to see Tornado Warning does not show up in the alphabetical list of alerts. The NOAA’s Public Alert standards will not allow certain alerts to be turned off or adjusted in any way. This includes Tornado Warning, Hurricane Warning, and a host of non-weather emergency alerts that might be issued by local, state, or federal emergency managers…such as nuclear, biohazard, and other civil emergencies. Not to worry, the Tornado Warning Alert is by default set to ON and the radio will alert you in the event of a tornado warning in the area.

Public Alert certification requires the audible alert tone on NOAA weather radios to be at least 77 decibels, which is about as loud as a vacuum cleaner.  If you silence certain alerts, you will still receive them in visual form. Deselected alerts won’t make any noise, but the alert light will still illuminate and the title of the alert scrolls across the display screen. So even without the audible alert you will still be notified if an emergency message is transmitted by the National Weather Service or other emergency managers.

If you silence some watches and warnings, think twice about silencing the Severe Thunderstorm Warning. Although many severe thunderstorms produce only marginally-severe hail and lightly-damaging winds, the really REALLY severe thunderstorms produce baseball or softball-sized hail, and can generate straight-line winds of up to 140 MPH, certainly enough to destroy a mobile home and rip the entire roof off a well-constructed wood or brick home. Our advice: better safe than sorry. Leave the Severe Thunderstorm Warnings turned on.