NOAA weather radio test successful in Sonoma Valley
On Sept. 5, the Sonoma County Department of Emergency Management conducted a test of three emergency alert technologies – the county’s cell phone-based SoCo Alert, the NOAA Weather Radio network managed by the National Weather Service, and the Federal Communications’ cell phone-based Wireless Emergency Alert system (WEA). All three systems were tested in northern Sonoma County, and the NOAA Weather Radios were also tested for efficacy in Sonoma Valley.
“In terms of the NOAA weather radio’s reach in the Sonoma Valley area, we had a test NOAA Weather Radio in the Glen Ellen-Arnold Drive (Sonoma Developmental Center) area – and that radio activated as well. It appears the NOAA weather radio test was a success in the Sonoma Valley area with a 92 percent [countywide] success rate overall,” said Tim Romero, community alert and warning program manager for the county.
Other key takeaways from the tests include:
• The SoCoAlert test achieved a 43.03 percent success rate in delivering the message to a person or answering machine. The county called 21,943 landlines or mobile phones registered for SoCoAlert; 9,223 connected (43.03 percent), 12,720 did not connect (57.97 percent).
• The NOAA Weather Radio test was successful. However, the message was only supposed to play twice but it played a total of eight times.
• Most people received messages on their cell phone as opposed to their landline, text, email and the NOAA Weather Radio.
• Messages were delivered and received in both English and Spanish.
• As expected, the WEA messages bled over into the non-targeted areas. As part of the exercise, just over 200 residents have taken part in the online survey so far, including one Spanish survey received.
• The test messages were clear and concise as local 9-1-1 dispatch centers did not see a significant number of people calling to ask questions during the test. Additionally, 2-1-1 was utilized as the call center and only received a total of 12 calls.
• 70 percent of survey respondents indicated that they knew about the test beforehand.
• The county’s emergency information website (www.socoemergency.org) performed extremely well.