DES MOINES, Iowa -- During one of the busiest months for severe weather, people who rely only on weather radios for alerts may not get the message.
Over the winter, the National Weather Service’s radio transmitter was damaged by ice. As a result, it doesn’t have enough power to activate weather radios in stand-by mode with severe weather alerts.
"Our range is significantly decreased for our weather radio broadcasts. since the power is down, our ability to turn the radios on and alert with a weather warning is degraded significantly for range," said Ken Harding, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
The weak signal will affect people in twelve central Iowa counties including Adair, Boone, Clarke, Dallas, Greene, Guthrie, Jasper, Madison, Marion, Polk, Story and Warren.
People may still be able to turn on their weather radios to receive forecast, but the National Weather Service in Johnston warns even those signals will be spotty and could be knocked out by wind or storms.
Channel 13 Meteorologist Brett McIntyre says now is the perfect time for people to make sure they have multiple ways to get severe weather alerts. One method is the "13 Warn Me" app.
"One of the big upgrades to our app now is that it will geographically locate off of your phone. You will get warnings where ever you are located. If you are in Polk County, you will get Polk County alerts. If you're traveling, if you're out camping, if you're somewhere else, the warnings that come to you will be based off your phones location," said McIntyre.
The "13 Warn Me" app also allows people to view a live stream of Iowa's Weather Channel, 13.2.
The National Weather Service is currently building a new transmitter, and will have to hire a tower crew to install it. Harding estimates it could be weeks, even months before the signal is back to full strength.
Below is a link to the National Weather Service's public statement regarding the degraded radio signal.