The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) is part of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and the National Weather Service (NWS). The SPC was formed to give timely, accurate forecasts and weather watch/warning information for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes over the contiguous United States. Heavy rainstorms, heavy snowfall and fire weather events are also monitored by the SPC.
The SPC relays forecasts of severe weather as much as three days ahead of time, as well as continually updating that information until the storm event has ended. Local NWS offices, emergency managers, TV and radio meteorologists, private weather forecasting companies, the aviation industry, storm spotters, persons in the agricultural industry and others use information provided by the SPC. All products issued by the Storm Prediction Center are available on the NOAA's National Weather Service.
The Tropical Prediction Center (TPC) is a component of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). Its mission is to save lives, mitigate property loss and improve economic efficiency by issuing watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of tropical weather and increasing the understanding of weather hazards. The TPC has a responsibility to generate and coordinate tropical cyclone analysis and forecast products for 24 countries in the Americas, Caribbean and for waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the eastern North Pacific Ocean.
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio
In cooperation with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Emergency Alert System, NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) is a network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information direct from National Weather Service offices. The NWR network is composed of 850 transmitters that cover all 50 states, adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the US Pacific Territories.
NWR broadcasts National Weather Service watches, warnings, forecasts, and other non-weather related hazard information 24 hours per day. NWR also broadcasts warning and after-event information for natural and environmental hazards, including earthquakes, volcanoes, oil spills and chemical releases.
Weather radios equipped with the special alarm tone feature called NWR S.A.M.E. (Specific Area Message Encoding) can sound an alert and give immediate information about emergency situations. You must program your county, parish or independent or marine area into the receiver. After programming, your NWR receiver will alert you to weather or other emergencies only for the county(s)/area(s) programmed into the receiver. Receivers without S.A.M.E. capability will alert listeners to emergencies anywhere within the coverage area of the NWR transmitter, typically several counties, even though the affected area may be far away from the listener.
During an emergency, NWS forecasters will interrupt routine weather programming and transmit a special tone that will activate weather radios in the listening area. When that occurs, the NWR S.A.M.E. receiver will activate for that message. A warning alarm tone will be heard, followed by an emergency broadcast message. At the end of the message, an end-of-message static burst will be transmitted, and then the NWR broadcast cycle will resume.
Emergency Alert System (EAS)
The Emergency Alert System replaced the Emergency Broadcast System in 1996. The EAS was designed by the FCC to allow officials to quickly relay emergency information to specific areas. This is an automated system similar to NWR S.A.M.E. technology. The EAS system is capable of sending information via cable television, satellite, pagers, Direct Broadcast Satellite, High Definition Television and Video Dial Tone. Backup procedures exist for those areas outside the range of an NWR station.
Local and county emergency operation centers can input messages into the EAS, as well as radio and television stations. FCC rules require that broadcasters monitor at least two independent sources for emergency information to ensure that emergency information is delivered to viewers and listeners.
The Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch
The Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB) of the Tropical Prediction Center provides year-round weather analysis and forecast products for the waters of the eastern North and South Pacific and North Atlantic Basin. Forecast products include:
Commonly Asked Questions
Sources for More Information
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Please Note: The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.
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