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NWS to implement three new EAS event codes in 2017 hurricane season

The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season ends Nov. 30 without a major storm striking Texas. 

It will be another six months to June 1 and the start of the 2017 hurricane season.

The National Weather Service said it will implement the FCC’s three new hurricane-related Emergency Alert System (EAS) codes in the 2017 hurricane season. 

In order for broadcast stations to receive and process these new EAS messages, stations in most cases will need to update their EAS unit’s operational software. 

If EAS equipment is not updated and the NWS sends one of these new messages for a real event, a station’s EAS encoder/decoder will typically display "UNKNOWN" event code and the EAS endec will not activate.

The new EAS codes to add to a station endecs are:

  • SSA - Storm Surge Watch
  • SSW - Storm Surge Warning
  • EWW - Extreme Wind Warning

The NWS says storm surge is the deadliest hazard associated with hurricanes.

It will issue a Storm Surge Watch or Storm Surge Warning when a life threatening inundation from storm surge is expected. 

The NWS said when the eye-wall of a major hurricane is just a few hours from making landfall, it will issue an Extreme Wind Warning. 

The alert will be a last ditch effort for those who did not evacuate to seek immediate shelter from the most extreme winds of the storm. 

The NWS has had the ability to issue Extreme Wind Warnings for many years, but the FCC only recently approved the new EAS code for such.

Attorney Harry Cole with TAB Associate Member law firm Fletcher Heald and Hildreth has the interesting “back story” on how the codes came to be at the FCC in the first place.

Consumers with NOAA weather radios should not have to do any upgrades.

Existing NWR SAME and Public Alert™ receivers should activate as normal and the detailed audible message will be heard in the weather broadcast. 

Older NWR Tone alert receivers should activate as normal with the 1050 Hz tone for these new watches and warnings.

Questions? Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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