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Weather Alerts on Repeaters


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This has come up several times under Part 90 and the FCC has stated it is not permissible to retransmit the routine weather statements. Weather warnings are a different matter in that they are permissible but only during the effective period. NOAA weather alerts automatically expire 4 hours from when they are issued unless a different period is specified. Flood warnings, as an example, are often issued for a period of several days. The other issue or issues you will run into include a bunch of upset people when you block a channel for unimportant routine information that can be retrieved from any number of commercial sources and the fact your transmission could override a legitimate call for assistance. As you state you are part of a weather spotter group, what would the reaction be from the amateur users in the area if you did the same thing on one of their channels? All in all, it's a poorly thought plan when very few people would listen when they get the same information from commercial radio and television.

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Does anyone know about the Part 95 legality of re-transmitting NOAA and NWS alerts over a repeater?  My Weather Spotters group would like to do this, if it's legal.

§ 95.1731.a. Does clarify that GMRS may be used for emergency communications. Getting on the air and personally reporting that a tornado is coming and advising listeners to take cover seems a perfectly legitimate use of the airwaves.

§ 95.333.b Prohibits broadcasting material from television and radio broadcasts. Re-broadcasting content originating from a public broadcast service, which the national weather service is, would seem to fall into this category.

Personally, I would take no offense to someone stepping in and making an emergency announcement, and recommending folks tune into NOAA or another information source, but I would not want the two-way frequency monopolized to the point where its primary purpose is lost. I can quickly imagine cases where families that include two-way comms in their emergency plans suddenly find themselves unable to communicate amongst themselves because their two-way frequency is suddenly tied up rebroadcasting something they already have available via other means.

50% of my radios have NOAA capability. I also have multiple dedicated NOAA radios around the house. If I were to hear that something was imminent, I would do what I always do, tune in NOAA. Where appropriate I would then continue monitoring whatever other frequency(s) I had been on.

Hope this helps.


Edit: Spelling & grammar
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Then there's the liability side of things. Every EAS activation over any form has to be documented, and in the event that an EAS alert is transmitted over a wide area (for instance, on linked repeaters using the national node) one could face very large penalties for creating a false public alarm. Likewise, If it is advertised that a repeater has EAS announcements, and the EAS fails to alert to an emergency you could equally be held liable.

Then there's the cost. You would need a special EAS decoder for your region of coverage, a printer for the EAS message data header (required for log book), and back-up power systems (2) to ensure the system is reliable in a worst case situation.

I found all this as I too planned to use EAS via radio so that I didn't have to buy dual band radio that would only TX on one band. The thinking was to give my family and I notice about bad weather while we were hiking or kayaking. After learning about all the equipment that is required, and the liability parts, I chose not to go that route and instead installed a weather app on my phone.

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First and foremost, a hearty thank you goes out to you and all Weather Spotters. Please let everyone in your group know they are helping people and ultimately saving lives. I'm not qualified to address legality, so I won't. I will however make the observation that even needing to inquire indicates that there's not enough effort being made to educate folks on the need to stay up to date on weather conditions and to have the gear on hand to do so quickly. The delay while a network waits to break in between putts is dangerous. Good luck if glued to cable and I had personal experience this week that cell phone notifications are not reliable. Bear with this sarcastic statement about society today: It's about time the weather service hired an attractive young female influencer with revealing wardrobe and a muscular young man who's never owned a shirt to launch a social media campaign to promote weather radio ownership and use. On the other hand, that temporary violation of personal ethics could save a life or two. 

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I agree with above assessment, retransmission of the NOAA announcement is not permitted, however, brief weather alerts are.

I am only familiar with the hamVOIP asterisk controller image since that's what I built my Allstar node with, but it allows "weather alerts" to be used. All it does is announce "Winter Storm Warning" (or whatever the warning is) after the repeater identification. There are protections so that alert, along with your repeater identification, are not transmitted over the link.


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32 minutes ago, WRAK968 said:

tweiss3, I am using the MyGMRS asterisk controller, and am curious how you were able to add in the weather alert feature. Would you be able to go more in depth?

Yea, there is a great writeup by hamVOIP: https://hamvoip.org/howto/AutoSky_howto.pdf

I'm not sure if there are enough differences for there to be issues with your image. I also use supermon to manage the node, instead of DTMF commands.

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