FCC Adds New Severe Weather Warning Codes to the Emergency Alert System

Three new EAS event codes will help communities receive more specific and relevant alerts during hurricanes or other severe weather

Storm clouds severe weather
Image: NOAA
July 12, 2016

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has updated its rules so that communities across the country can receive more specific—and potentially life-saving—warnings through the Emergency Alert System (EAS) before extreme weather hits.

The amended rules add three new "event codes" that can be used to warn the public about the storm surges and extreme winds that may accompany hurricanes and other severe weather events.

The EAS is the national public warning system through which broadcasters, cable television providers, and other participants deliver emergency information to people throughout the United States.

About 90 percent of EAS activations are generated by the National Weather Service (NWS) and concern weather events. Alert originators, such as the NWS, select from a group of fixed event codes based on the nature of the situation (for example, "TOR" signifies tornado), and the relevant alert is subsequently distributing by EAS participants to the public.

The FCC says that the three new EAS event codes—which will signify an Extreme Wind Warning, Storm Surge Watch, and Storm Surge Warning—will help communities receive more specific and relevant alerts during hurricanes or other severe weather.

The updated rules require EAS equipment manufacturers to integrate the codes into new equipment and will also enable EAS participants to update their existing equipment in advance of next year's (2017) Atlantic hurricane season.

Further information about the EAS is available here.

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