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New EAS Codes Planned for Wind and Storm Surges

FCC to consider action at June 24 meeting

It looks like new event codes will soon be added to the Emergency Alert System for extreme wind and storm surge situations in the United States, particularly those caused by Category 3 and higher hurricanes.

If the pending rule change passes, which seems likely, EAS equipment manufacturers will have to add three codes into new equipment, and stations would have to update their existing gear, ahead of next year’s Atlantic hurricane season.

When it meets later this month, the Federal Communications Commission will consider a report and order taking this step. Chairman Tom Wheeler writes on his blog that he is circulating the rules at the request of the National Weather Service.

“The EAS is a proven life-saver, sending alerts to people over radio, television and cable systems to warn about severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other weather events,” Wheeler wrote. “But it could be better.”

He noted that the heads of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Hurricane Center recently emphasized the danger of storm surges.

Wheeler said the new event codes added to EAS would be “Extreme Wind Warning,”“Storm Surge Watch” and “Storm Surge Warning.”