EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM
October 20, 2011
On Wednesday, November 9, 2011, at approximately 2:00 p.m., every broadcast outlet in America will take part in a simultaneous test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The national test will originate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington, D.C., and spread across the country. Every radio and television station, as well as every cable and satellite channel, could be "locked up" transmitting this test for three minutes or longer.
What the Public should know
Don't panic! You may find your favorite radio or TV program unavailable for a few minutes. While this is the first time the EAS has ever been activated simultaneously in every state, broadcasters, cable operators and emergency planning professionals practice using the EAS every week. New Hampshire stations have utilized EAS technology since 1994.
EAS is a public warning system that leverages the communications assets of terrestrial broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service providers, direct broadcast satellite services and wireline video service providers to allow the President of the United States to address the American public during a national emergency. Next June the country will upgrade to the "next generation" of EAS system, joining FEMA's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
What Broadcasters should know
The Required Monthly Test scheduled for Monday, November 7th at 1:15 p.m. has been cancelled.
The FCC has created a 23-page Nationwide EAS Test Handbook that must be downloaded (http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/emergency-alert-system-nationwide-test) and posted at each station during the national test.Â Each station must comply with specific reporting requirements by December 27, 2011 (see p.8 of the Handbook for the specific information you are asked to provide).Â The 3-step process can be accessed at the same website.Â Step 1 can be completed immediately; steps 2 & 3 won't be available until after the test.
The FCC has extended until June 2012 the date by which all stations must install CAP-compliant equipment.
Read more about IPAWS here (http://www.fema.gov/emergency/ipaws/).
NOAA WEATHER RADIO
The NH State Plan relies on NOAA Weather Radio as one of three originating EAS message sources. Stations should monitor one of these frequencies:
- Concord (WXJ40, 162.400, 330 watts)
- Saddleback Mountain, Deerfield (KZZ40, 162.450, 300 watts)
- Mt. Washington (KZZ41, 162.50, 300 watts)
- Pack Monadnock (WNG575, 162.525, 300 watts)
- Holderness (WNG545, 162.55, 300 watts)
- Hanover (WNG546, 162.525, 300 watts)
- Clarksville (WNG544, 162.400, 300 watts)
For a chart showing other NOAA frequencies in Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts, click here. Weather warnings comprise about 95% of EAS traffic. Radio, TV and cable stations that monitor these frequencies can elevate themselves on the EAS daisy chain by monitoring a primary source directly instead of relying on another AM/FM/TV station to relay the information.