So far, none of us can control the weather. If you watch TV or kids cartoons enough, you’ll see some mad scientist trying to find a way to control the weather so he can control the world, but in reality, Mother Nature is in charge and she doesn’t let us forget it.
No matter where you live, extreme weather is possible. From hot desert temps to tornados or heavy snowfalls to dust storms, everyone is impacted by what Mother Nature is throwing at them.
Watches and warnings come on quickly:
A “watch” means conditions are favorable for something to occur. The most common include Thunderstorm Watches or Tornado Watches. When you hear this message, you should keep an eye out for changing weather conditions that could cause the situation to worsen.
A “warning” means something is happening at this particular time. If you have a tornado warning in your area, a weather spotter has identified and reported a tornado to the National Weather Service. In many communities, there are sirens that are activated when warnings are issued. These loud sirens are used to alert residents to a significant weather event that is happening at this time.
Weather conditions can change very quickly but how do you stay informed?
Be ready at the touch of a button:
There are a number of companies that make weather alert radios. From standalone models to portables with extra battery packs, you can find a number of choices to help you keep track of changing weather conditions. While I have not tested all of the weather radios out there, I have tried a couple and I keep coming back to the same brand, the Midland Radio.
The first weather radio I received was a Christmas gift from my dad about ten years ago. Being in the Indiana, there was always the chance some severe thunderstorm or major snowstorm was going to occur and he wanted me to be prepared. The manufacturer was Midland Radio, and they are still producing radios today. That radio was a WR300 Desktop Model. It is full featured and has worked perfectly for all these years. I really like it because I can pick and choose what items I hear alerts on. For example, I may not want to hear about thunderstorm watches, but I do want to hear about thunderstorm warnings. I can pick which events are turned on and which are turned off. I can say, from first hand experience, this thing is loud when it goes off. I keep it in the kitchen and I still hear it in the bedroom when an alert is received. And it always seems like the big thunderstorms come overnight so the alarm goes off while I’m sleeping. Another great feature are the indicator lights on the unit. With a quick glance, you can tell if there is an advisory, a watch or a warning. Then by touching a button, you can read the message or even listen to local weather that is picked up by the radio. Plus, you can scroll from one message to the next. For example, you may have a thunderstorm warning and then a flash flood watch due to the amount of rain that is expected to be received.
Some of the key features with the WR300 Desktop Model include S.A.M.E. technology, six AM/FM radio presets and a built in weather monitor so you can listen to local forecasts at the touch of a button. If you live in a more remote area, you can connect an external antenna for better reception and a visual alert strobe light in case you need to see an alerts over hearing them. Amazon offers the WR300 model for about $42 and it has been reviewed over 900 times with a 4 out of 5 star rating.
But what do you do if you are someone who likes to camp and be outdoors.
Portability with power:
Midland makes another great weather radio that’s portable and powerful. And it’s at a competitive price point, which is important. The model HH54VP2 is a portable radio that runs on a rechargeable battery. So you can carry it with you, take it in the RV, use it in your tent or anywhere you want to carry it with you.
There are a couple of things I like better than the desktop model and then a few things I wish were different. One of the biggest benefits is the ability to mute the alert. I really like this feature. There is still an indicator on the radio that shows you when there is a watch or warning but you can mute that very loud alarm. However, the indicator light is one single red light and you can’t tell if the item is an advisory, watch or warning without picking up the radio. I really wish this product utilized the multi-colored indicator lights. Also, you can’t turn off alerts that you are not interested in. So in my case, I see watches for thunderstorms even though I’m only interested in the warnings. The desktop model gives me more flexibility with these options.
The HH54VP2 receives over 60 different alerts and uses the S.A.M.E. technology for localized reception. This means you put in your location code and you receive messages for your specific area. Plus it picks up special alerts including Amber Alerts. And it offers a travel mode that scans fro the first available weather channel that has a strong signal and uses that for local alerts. The HH54VP2 is approximately $35 on Amazon and has been reviewed over 60 times with a 3.7 out of 5 star rating.
Are you interested in the weather?
While listening to the weather can be very interesting, products like these two weather radios are items you set and forget until they go off. Living here in the desert, it is very helpful to know when a dust storm warning has been issued. I like to make sure my home is closed up tight when one of those dust storms are blowing through. But these are not hands on items that you will interact with every single day. You will appreciate them when they alert you to impending severe weather, but probably will not think much about them on those nice, sunny, summer days.
You can also become involved with SkyWarn, which is the National Severe Weather Spotters program. There is no cost for joining this program and they offer some basic and advanced weather spotting classes to help you learn what to look for when severe weather may be nearby. If you happen to spot any severe weather, you report it to the local NOAA meteorologists and they begin researching what you have seen. The classes are interesting and they help you learn the difference in the type of storm clouds, what types of weather to report and they may even call you directly to see what the weather is doing at your location if they have severe weather in your area.
If you are looking for a great weather website to help you plan your day or keep track of changing weather conditions, try the National Weather Service. Once you put in your zip code, you are able to see your local maps, forecast, hourly weather data including wind, rain, humidity and more.
You do not need to be a tech driven person to appreciate the information on this site or to benefit from the Midland weather radios. Knowing what is changing around you helps you prepare for the day and more.