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Computer Voices on Weather Radio
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Dave Thurlow, Host
 
Hi, I'm Dave Thurlow from the Mountain Washington Observatory and this is The Weather Notebook. Well ya, it is The Weather Notebook but that wasn't me. It was a computer generated voice much the same as the voices you may be hearing soon coming from NOAA Weather Radio.

   
The Console Replacement System (CRS) uses text-to-speech voice synthesis provided by the contractor Digital Equipment Corporation through what is known as DECtalk voice boards and software. NOAA Weather Radio
What's a NOAA weather radio? Well, NOAA stands for the National Oceanic and atmospheric Administration, and the radios that you or I or anybody can buy, are set up to receive the nearest weather report, which is broadcast from one of the hundreds of weather service sites around the country. NOAA Weather Radio sends out all kinds of weather warnings and with the new voice automation, the warnings will be going out faster than they were before.

By using voice automation, the amount of time from receiving data to broadcasting warnings can be cut drastically. Here's how it works: Doppler radar brings in all kinds of weather data that meteorologists would ordinarily have to transcribe, record and then send out over the radio - a process that can potentially take a lot of time. But now, with the new automated voice system, all meteorologists have to do with the Doppler information is to proofread it, make some minor adjustments to the warning and then convert it directly to the voice software with the touch of a computer key. And then:

"This storm contains high winds. Three twisters were sighted."

This new system is being used at selected sites across the country, and it could save taxpayers up to 85% in labor costs associated with broadcasting the warnings. And while yes, this new system will save money and lives, many will lament the loss of the true human voice, the local accents and nuances that sound like the guy down the street.

Thanks today to contributing writer Bob Henson. Our show is underwritten by Subaru, with major support provided by the National Science Foundation.

 
Related Links

The Console Replacement System (CRS)
Frequently asked questions about NOAA Weather Radio Automated Voicing and Programming.

Station Listing by County
NOAA Weather Radio service to a county depends on reliable signal reception, which typically extends in about a 40 mile radius from the transmitter, assuming level terrain.

Weather Radio Receivers
The National Weather Service does not endorse any particular make or model of receiver. The link above, which contains just some of the many NOAA Weather Radio/EAS receiver manufacturers, is provided to obtain information to decide on a purchase.