NOAA Weather Radio signal out for some in the Williamsburg area

Posted at 8:34 PM, May 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-13 20:34:36-04

Hampton Roads, Va. - Some folks in the Williamsburg area are not able to get alerts on their NOAA weather radio, an important tool some people rely on during severe storms.

And right now, the National Weather Service Office in Wakefield isn't sure when it could be fixed.

"The radios are nice because they'll wake you up in the middle of the night.  They're a very fast way of getting the warnings.  As soon as we issue the warnings, they go off like a smoke detector," said Jeff Orrock, Meteorologist in Charge at the Wakefield office.

Orrock says the problem started almost a year and a half ago.  That's when NewsChannel 3 told you about a major hardware failure with the weather radio system located in the Driver area of Suffolk.  Water got into the cables.  And when our temperatures dropped below freezing, the cables expanded and snapped, taking the system off the air.

Eventually, new equipment was installed and things improved, but that's until people living in the Williamsburg area, specifically Toano and Lightfoot, noticed they had no signal at all.

"So there's a lot of folks who were getting it, [who] have now lost it," said Orrock.

That means if a tornado warning were issued, some folks couldn't get that alert from their weather radio, at least for now.

The solution?  Orrock says the National Weather Service has been working with New Kent County.  The county is expected to build three communications towers.  One of those towers will be built in the eastern part of New Kent - the tower the weather service wants to put up a new transmitter to take care of the problem.  However right now, there's no timetable for when any of that might happen.

"If we can make it happen, that'll definitely fill the gap.  But the question is can we make that happen. And the question of course with funding is how fast can it happen," said Orrock.

Right now, the fastest way for anyone to get weather alerts is by downloading the VIPIR app on your smartphone or tablet.  You can download that app from our homepage.