In The News
Switch to digital TV puts more importance on weather radios
The Wichita Eagle
March 8, 2009
Don't count on having a portable TV in the basement or storm shelter with you this spring to monitor tornado watches and warnings.
With the conversion to digital signals earlier this year, they're not going to work.
That means NOAA weather radios, cell phone services and Internet access will be more important than ever, officials say.
"That's probably something a lot of people haven't thought about," said Chance Hayes, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wichita.
The small portable televisions will work if they're attached to a converter box, said Greg Hephner of Hephner TV and Electronics. But the converter boxes are almost as big as the small televisions folks like to carry with them, he said, so many people won't bother to mess with it.
"I was scanning through several of my catalogs, and I found nothing" with a digital tuner built in, Hephner said. "There may be something out there, but I haven't seen it."
Those who seek shelter in a basement or safe room with a television connected to a digital converter box will be fine, officials say -- as long as the electricity holds out.
With the proliferation of information services available via Internet or cell phone, Hephner said, people may not need to rely on a television like they once did.
But cell phone signals may be weak in the basement, and the storm may knock out the power, silencing the Internet.
That makes a NOAA weather radio the best option as a primary source for information, Hayes said, because it uses a 9-volt battery as a backup power source and receives alerts and warnings as they are issued.