Pros: 25 counties, very loud alert, fast response, can scroll through messages, reliable, battery backup
Cons: takes getting used to, has to be used alone in outlet
I’ve always felt a sense of security because of the area my home is in. I am directly beside several giant hollows (big mountainous hills) and I’ve seen time and time again how a potential (small F1) tornado has been headed directly my way, and then disappeared when it comes near the hollows. Also, I reasoned that my home was nearing its 250th year, so it has missed them for quite a long time considering we get them often here in Alabama. But, my mind was changed after April 27, 2011. Apparently an F4 tornado has no trouble going up and over hollows. One was so close that I was cleaning household debris off of my property for days.
Normally, I rely on the TV weathermen while waiting out one of these types of storms, and then when the power fails, relying on dialup internet to check the alerts on the NOAA website. But, in a situation like that one, even the phone lines were down. And so, I made sure to purchase a weather radio for the next time.
Our local news team was out and showing people how to properly set up their weather radios, so I bought one that day and had assistance on setting it up. I bought the Midland WR-120B NOAA All-Hazards Alert Weather Radio which was an upgrade from the Midland WR-100. Set-up was extremely easy and I felt embarrassed that I had even asked because I could have done it myself. It can be set to up to 25 counties, but I set it up to the ones directly west and northwest of me, as well as my own. It also will allow me to choose three languages (English, French, Spanish), so I chose English. I could also choose one of three warning alerts: a high 90dB siren which will wake even the heaviest sleeper (it is LOUD!!), an alert with the robotic voice that gives the warnings, or a flashing LED light. I wanted to use the siren because a lot of these storms come through during the middle of the night, and I wanted to be awake and in a safe area for them. The third thing I set up was the time.
It has a really simple control panel. There is a menu button, a button to select through the menu, volume control buttons, directional arrows to scroll through the messages (10 at a time) that display on the LED screen, and there is a Weather/Snooze button. On the side of the radio is an On/Off Switch, and on the back are ports for an external antenna, a cloning port, and an external alert port. (Also, on the back is the place to plug the power adapter cord). It comes with a plug-in adapter cord, but can also run on (3 AAA) batteries that will (if the radio is set in the “On” position) kick on in case the power fails. This is incredibly handy because it will keep working if the power goes out while I am sleeping, and still alert me if it has to. There is also an antenna attached so that it can pick up reception. It works best if placed near a window.
There is one thing I noticed right away before reading the instructions. It has to be plugged into an outlet that has nothing else plugged into it. It seems to not get reception otherwise because maybe there is interference. I can’t use it with a surge protector or similar. But, it works like a charm if using it by itself in an outlet.
I had a few issues with it for the first few weeks. First is that somehow, an alarm was set on it to 4 AM. I’m not sure how it happened because it just started happening about the second week I had it. (I think I did it on accident). So, every morning at 4 AM, it would wake me and I would have to race to shut it off before it awoke my daughter. I could not for the life of me figure out how erase this setting. It finally stopped after having the second issue which was that there was a really irritating beep every 10 minutes or so. It was so irritating and I could not figure out how to remedy it. That was stupidity on my part because once I thought to remove the batteries and added new ones, the beeping stopped. I guess the batteries were low and maybe it was warning me about it. (You see, I had unplugged it during one of those 4 AM morning dashes, but forgot to plug it back in). It is so loud, this alarm, that it will sound in every room throughout my large home as if it was right next to me. But, because it was a new sound to me, I would wake up and run about in a mad panic trying to get to my daughter, thinking it was a fire alarm or something. It’s not a pleasant way to wake up. (haha) But, I am glad the alarm is so loud because if there is a tornado nearby, I want to be awake to see the feed on the TV to see if my area is in danger.
It runs on 7 channels, so I also get alerts for things like floods and thunderstorm warnings and watches. It’s a nice feature, but in a situation where the threat for tornadoes are over, I still get awakened to every little flash flood warning or thunderstorm watch that goes on. I’ve had a peaceful summer with this radio, but I dread the coming spring. I doubt I’ll get any sleep at all because of the “Bee-BooBee-BeeBoo” sound of the radio telling me that the river folks may get a little water in their yard.
But, the best thing about this radio?? I get the alerts from NOAA before they can come out of my TV weatherman’s mouth and right before it is updated on the TV. So, I know I am getting them as fast as possible, so that I can go to a place of safety if needed. And, there have been times since owning it, that I didn’t have power or internet, so I didn’t have to have the fear of being without eyes and ears during a tornado outbreak. It gave me a sense of security by keeping me informed.
I would recommend anyone getting a weather radio, especially if living in an area that is affected by tornadoes often. This one had a few things that used to annoy me, but now I know how to operate it better and I am no longer tormented (haha). It is still a great radio, had crystal clear sound (though a robotic voice), and I can even scroll through the message and not have to wait on the robotic dude to tell me what he has to. I mainly love that I can set it to whatever counties I want (by getting the codes via the NOAA website) because my previous radio would only use the entire state as default. It is affordable, at around $30 and is now an item that I don’t think I could do without. I will surely upgrade it someday, but when I do, it will be a Midland radio.