Updated: June 8, 2015

Weather Radio Reviews:

You might wonder why you would ever need a weather radio when the Internet and television provide so much up to date information. Living on the west coast I have never thought about weather conditions that are so unstable that you need instant alerts to get you through the emergency. In 2008 we have seen an unprecedented number of tornadoes touch down all across the Mid-West and severe flooding occur in Iowa and other states along the Mississippi River. Tornadoes would be my biggest fear if I lived in the states most vulnerable to them like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa. Weather radios can be a lifesaver as they provide individuals with the latest NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) broadcast for forecasts and the current status of moving systems. A good weather radio should also be able to get the FCC's Emergency Alert System signal when an emergency alert has been sent. You are literally talking about a few minutes in some cases where tornadoes have formed and are about to engulf neighborhoods.
weather radio


Buying Guide - The NWR operates on 7 frequencies for different areas of the United States. They will send out a weather alert signal for things like thunderstorms, flash floods, tornadoes, and winter storms. If you have a radio with SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) you can program it to only alert you when the emergency involves your specific area or situation. For example, if you lived in a flood plain, you would want to hear about flash floods versus someone who lives on high ground and doesn't need to be alerted to such potential disasters. The NOAA Weather Radio also works directly with the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to provide more than weather related emergencies. You can hear about child abductions (called Amber Alerts), chemical hazards and spills, fires, evacuations, 911 service outages, and more. You'll want a radio with SAME technology, optional external antenna capability, and digital tuning. Some owners of cheaper brands mention that tuning on some models is not easy and it's difficult to find the right frequency. Digital tuning allows for finding the exact location on the radio. When the power is completely out in your area it's nice to have a weather radio that runs if you hand crank it like the Eton FR300 model. Batteries are great, but they can runout over time and you need a backup source that is manually controlled like the Eton. Radio Shack has an excellent buying guide on their website and when we visited their store locally, the employee was well versed in weather and emergency radios and walked us through the pluses and minuses of each product. Their 12-259 model is considered an well tested portable weather radio that literally fits into the palm of your hand and costs about $50. The Midland WR-300 ($90) gets the best reviews overall for weather radios and Midland has been making handheld communication devices for decades with two way radios, CB radios, GMRS radios, and more. Their name is well recognized in the industry and their products live up to the hype. In terms of reviews, you can find plenty to read online at Amazon.com in their customer feedback and opinion section. Also, Radioshack.com has owner reviews on their website as well. We found the reviews to be informative and very educational in trying to find which models consistently perform the best and receive the best ratings. Expect to spend at least $40 and upwards of $90 to get a quality weather radio. When you consider the price versus the potential of the radio help save you from a natural disaster, it is money well spent. You can browse their top selling weather radios online here.

Best Weather Radio:

The MIDLAND WR300 Weather Radio ($50) is considered the top of the line weather radio. The WR 300 is a desktop radio that is Public Alert certified with all the features and technical standards that the NOAA looks for. You get digital PLL tuning, SAME localized reception cutting down on "false alarms", 23 programmable county codes, an alarm clock, and built in AM/FM digital radio. There is a 10 memory alert, you can add or remove unwanted alerts, and it plugs into a wall using an AC adapter which is included. It can also run on 4 AA batteries, but those are not included. For independent online reviews of the WR 300, go purchase it online HERE.

Emergency Radio with Crank:

The Eton FR300 Emergency Crank Radio ($35) is a top rated weather radio on Amazon.com and it receives excellent reviews from consumers. It's available in silver, red, black or orange colors and features a built in cell phone charger, flashlight, and emergency siren. You get AM/FM/TV-VHF/NOAA signals. The internal generator recharges the Ni-MH battery pack which supplies power to the radio. You can also get power by using 3 AA batteries or an AC adapter (both not included). The hand crank is perhaps the best aspect of this emergency radio so that you know when the batteries have run out and the electricity is not working, you can can crank the radio for about 1 1/2 minutes to get 40 to 60 minutes of additional power to the radio. In an emergency where the power is out for extended periods of time, having the hand crank option could save your life. Owners say the controls and functions are logically laid out and easy to use. This particular radio is also sold under the Grundig and Red Cross names. The Etron FR400 is a step up from this model as it is water-resistant. You can find the FR300 online at Amazon.com or stores like Target, Radio Shack, or Lowes.


Portable Weather Radio:

No one wants weather to deter their outdoor activities, but sometimes severe weather is enough to stop us from hiking, camping, or even traveling someplace. Portable emergency radios are something that all people should own if they plan on camping or being outdoors when there is a possibility of severe weather, especially thunderstorms with lightning or even a potential tornado. The Radio Shack 12-259 ($50) is considered an excellent buy and you can find the PDF file for the owners manual HERE. This small, handheld 7-channel weather radio is perfect and you can program in 10 FIPS location codes for your area. It will run for up to 4 days on 3 AA batteries, but owners say that is not always the case and having more batteries on hand is crucial to your safety. It has a built in clock and thermometer and the backlit display makes for easy viewing in all lighting conditions. There is a battery and signal strength indicator so you can have more batteries ready to go when needed. The auto scan feature will find you the strongest signal using the flexible rubber antenna. You can find it online at Radioshack.com or visit one of their stores in person. See all the most popular portable weather radios online here.