Radios may be useless in some areas

Published 11:51 am Friday, February 23, 2007

As part of state severe weather awareness week, officials are encouraging residents to buy weather radios, which can alert residents to dangerous weather.

But in areas of Adams County, there may be a chance they won’t work.

Civil Defense Director George Souderes said Thursday that a combination of factors has contributed to intermittent reception in areas of the county for about 20 years.

Email newsletter signup

Terrain and bad weather can affect the reception out of the closest transmission tower in Bude.

“It’s a hit-and-miss thing,” Souderes said.

The distance may be part of the problem, Souderes said.

According to the National Weather Service’s Web site, a reliable signal typically extends about 40 miles with level terrain. A map on the site also shows some “unreliable” locations in Adams County.

Rain and bad weather can interfere with reception, he said.

“When it’s raining, when you really depend upon it, that’s when it may be fragmented,” Souderes said.

The National Weather service replaced the Bude transmitter with one that produced a stronger signal in 2004, said Steve Wilkinson, warning coordination meteorologist for NWS in Jackson.

“We did what we called a field test,” Wilkinson said. “We brought someone in to test the signal’s strength. At that time, we were told the signal strength was good. We thought everything was fixed.”

Wilkinson said the weather service would probably schedule another test soon to see if the reports of weak signals are accurate.

“Then, if it is (weak), we’ll try to do something about it,” he said. “Exactly what, it’s kind of early to say. It’s not going to happen overnight.”

Aside from installing an antenna outside a building, there’s not much residents can do to increase their reception right now, Wilkinson said.

Weather radios are important tools in being alert to severe weather, Wilkinson said.

The weather service issues severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings, and a weather radio is the ideal way to reach the public, he said.

“If a tornado warning is issued at 3 a.m., you’re not going to be watching TV,” he said. “This would wake you up and hopefully give you time to get to shelter before an actual tornado hit. It’s the one thing that can alert people when they’re the most vulnerable.”