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      Raising awareness about weather radios

      The National Weather Service broadcasts weather alerts all across the country. And the N.W.S. office in Marquette county is responsible for U.P. alerts.

      "We basically send out the weather radio broadcast for all the transmitters for Upper Michigan," said Matt Zika, N.W.S. Meteorologist.

      Weather radios have been giving the public instant access to weather warnings since the '70s.

      "Any time there's a weather warning issued, whether it be winter storm warnings, tornado warnings, or thunderstorm warnings, the radio will activate and alert you that some sort of hazardous weather is heading your way," Zika said.

      The radios aren't just limited to weather either.

      "For non-weather emergencies, typically we'll get calls from local emergency management officials. And they'll say they want help in distributing some of this emergency information. And so, we can go ahead and do that in just a few seconds time," said Zika.

      Many people use their mobile devices for weather information. But cell phone usage can be limited in rural U.P. areas. Limited coverage is not a concern for weather radios.

      "We've been able to expand the coverage across Upper Michigan. And so, pretty much anywhere you go now, you have access to weather radio coverage," Zika said.

      But you can't just turn it on in your car. You need to purchase a special receiver to hear the weather alerts. They can be found in most electronics and hardware stores. The pricing starts around $20 with pricier models offering additional features.

      Portable versions are also available.

      "You can get a simple portable one that you can take with you anywhere in the outdoors. Especially in the summertime when it may be a little bit more weather-active or more hazards due to thunderstorms or potentially tornadoes," Zika said.

      For more information on NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards Awareness Week, visit their website.