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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere. NOAA warns of dangerous weather, charts seas and skies, guides the use and protection of ocean and coastal resources, and conducts research to improve understanding and stewardship of the environment. In addition to its civilian employees, NOAA research and operations are supported by uniformed service members who make up the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps.

The NWS provides "weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy." This is done through a collection of national and regional centers, and over 100 local weather forecast offices (WFOs). Since the NWS is a government agency, most of its products are in the public domain and available free of charge.

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NWS Event-Driven Products

Outlook – A Hazardous Weather Outlook is issued daily addressing potentially hazardous weather or hydrologic events that may occur in the next seven days. The outlook will include information about potential severe thunderstorms, heavy rain or flooding, winter weather, extremes of heat or cold, etc. It is intended to provide information to those who need considerable lead time to prepare for the event. Other outlooks are issued on an event-driven basis, such as the Flood Potential Outlook and Severe Weather Outlook.

Special Weather Statement – A special weather statement is issued when something rare or unusual is occurring. These are usually triggered by sudden changes in meteorological conditions. The statements are to be taken as warnings for residents of a specific area. The warning generally states that an area might be at risk for a slight weather danger. Not all weather statements are warnings, though. Other times, statements describe informative facts about a weather system; such as local snowfall.

Advisory – An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings, that cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.

Watch – A watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set their plans in motion can do so. A watch means that hazardous weather is possible, but not imminent. People should have a plan of action in case a storm threatens and they should listen for later information and possible warnings especially when planning travel or outdoor activities.

Warning – A warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. A warning means weather conditions pose a threat to life or property. People in the path of the storm need to take protective action.

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazard  

KWO-39 Chicago
162.55 MHz

KZZ-81 Lockport
162.425 MHz

KZZ-57 Rockford
162.475 MHz

WNG-536 DeKalb

162.55 MHz

KXI41 Crystal Lake
162.500 MHz

NOAA WEATHER RADIO ALL HAZARDS is a network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from a nearby National Weather Service (NWS) office. It is operated by the NWS, an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within the United States Department of Commerce. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day. It also broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security, natural, environmental, and public safety (see: AMBER Alert) through the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Emergency Alert System. Chicago's station is KWO-39 at 162.55 MHz.