Weather location codes: specific area message encoding

Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) is a method of identifying the local area to which an alert message applies. It uses a digital data stream that contains the alert message, with information about the type of event expected, its timing, duration and location. Identification codes for the specific location and type of event are embedded in the broadcast by an encoder at the transmitter site, and are decoded by SAME-capable models of Weatheradio receivers. Within the broadcast, this data stream can be heard as a brief tone or static-like burst of noise.

Scientific improvements have made it possible for Environment Canada to more precisely pinpoint the area at risk when issuing weather warnings. However, the broadcast pattern for each Weatheradio transmitter is approximately a 60 km radius which may include 10 or more of the small weather warning regions. A SAME-capable Weatheradio can be programmed with the Canadian Location Code (CLC) for the immediate area, to screen out messages that don't apply to the user. Receivers may also be programmed to not activate when specific types of messages are sent, such as flash freeze warnings. Certain event codes such as tornado warnings cannot be disabled. These newer receivers also permit notification of weather watches and advisories in addition to weather warnings.

Enhanced SAME-capable receivers will recognize the SAME event code for the full suite of weather and non-weather related emergency messages. When an event happens, it triggers colour-coded status lights that indicate when a warning, watch or advisory is issued, in addition to the full audio, visual and/or text alert. This feature assists emergency responders in monitoring the severity of events as they escalate.

All Weatheradios with the SAME decode feature can be preset to activate only in a local geographic area. To program one of these models, select the appropriate codes from the CLC code webpage and then follow the manufacturer's directions.

There are also options that permit the receiving of warnings for more than one location in the broadcast area and, with some models, an additional option to disable the alerting feature for certain types of warning messages.

Older Weatheradios do not have the SAME decode feature. These units will continue to receive the full range of weather watches, advisories and warnings as in the past. However, they will not be able to take advantage of the enhanced options offered by a Weatheradio with SAME decoding capability.

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