ARE YOU READY FOR DHS ALERTS FROM NWR? + EAS CODES DEFINED!
Article by Gary Timm
On June 17, 2004, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) signed an
agreement with NOAA/NWS addressing the transmission of DHS-originated
emergency messages over All-Hazards NOAA Weather Radio (NWR).
If DHS becomes aware of a threat in a particular state or area of the
country, after coordination with authorities in each involved state, DHS
will issue an alert to all NWS offices via a link in the Washington, DC
area. NWS offices with NWR coverage areas affected by the threat will
broadcast the message on NWR, using the DHS-requested EAS/SAME Event Code.
Currently, the alert will not be relayed in text form on NOAA Weather Wire
Service (NWWS), EMWIN, or any other NWS system.
Although many broadcasters have upgraded their EAS Units to the new EAS
Event Codes released in 2002, the second step is that the EAS Units must
be programmed to react to the new codes. If broadcasters want to relay
these DHS alerts, they will need to know the Originator Code and Event
Codes to program into their EAS Unit filters. In reviewing NWS documents
(NWSI 10-1710 & NWSI 10-518), as well as information provided by Herb
White, Dissemination Services Manager at NWS HQ, the following are the
recommendations we felt appropriate at this time.
The Originator Code on all DHS alerts will be CIV, Civil Authorities.
(Even though the alerts are first broadcast on NWR, they are originated by
Civil Authorities and thus will not carry the WXR, National Weather
Service Originator Code. These non-weather alerts will use the CIV
One of three Event Codes will normally be used. CEM (Civil Emergency
Message) or CDW (Civil Danger Warning) will be used to activate the
alerts. ADR (Administrative Message) will be used to terminate the alerts.
If you want to be on the safe side, Herb White advises you also program
the following codes for possible DHS use: EVI, HMW, RHW, SPW, FRW, LAE,
and NUW. At the present time, NOAA has requested that DHS use only the CEM
code, until we can get the word out into the broadcast community to add
these other codes into our EAS Unit programming. Broadcasters should
program these new codes into their EAS Unit filters as soon as possible,
and all stations are encouraged to share this information with other
broadcasters in their area.
In addition to the DHS alerts, a separate agreement between NOAA and the
FEMA National Warning Center (NWC) exists for NWR to transmit warnings of
nuclear attack as well as other non-weather alerts. Nuclear attack would
use code CDW, and the other non-weather alerts could use any of the
additional codes which Herb recommends adding above. Using the guidelines
above regarding programming for DHS alerts should then cover you for NWC
alerts as well. The NWC alerts are separate from any EAN messages issued
by the White House.
NWS is taking the new All-Hazards Radio moniker to heart, and has made
changes recently to make NWR more available to local civil authorities.
As of June 30, 2004, all the new EAS Event codes were approved for use on
NWR. On September 8, 2004, NWS offices began using the new EAS-equivalent
Product Codes in text messaging as well (via NWWS, EMWIN, etc.)
NWS has also published a very helpful document, NWS Instruction 10-518,
which aids local authorities in establishing a relationship with their
local NWS Office for the purpose of sending local emergency alerts.
Section 5 of the document, Civil Emergency Message, addresses local
alerting. It deals with developing procedures, issuance criteria, and
sample scripts. Appendix C of this document is a landmark. Someone has
finally defined the new specific EAS Event Codes. The definitions in
Appendix C will be used as guidance for federal authorities in issuing
alerts, and they can be most useful to local authorities as well. State
and Local EAS Plans should be updated at this time to not only include the
relay of DHS alerts, but also to incorporate these new EAS Event Code
definitions. The link to this document is:
Looking to the future, NWS is currently working on a system called
HazCollect, which it expects to begin deploying in mid-2005. This would
be a secure, centralized interface, with backups, which would be used to
collect non-weather hazard messages from local, state, and federal
authorities and get them into the NWR system. NWS is really going the
extra mile to work with local authorities, and it's great to see.
Gary Timm is a Broadcast Engineer at Journal Broadcast Group, in
Milwaukee, and is Broadcast Chair of the Wisconsin EAS Committee. Contact
him at: email@example.com .
For questions on NWR, contact: Herbert.White@noaa.gov .
Herb is Dissemination Services Manager at NWS Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD.