Weather Wednesday ) Weather Radio Voices

Hi folks. Welcome to another Weather Wednesday. This post is about what you hear when you are listening to Weatheradio Canada and NOAA Weather Radio. Even I learned something when I published it first in another newsletter besides my own Weather Radio Listeners Newsletter.
As you may be aware, Weatheradio Canada and NOAA Weather Radio both operate on the same seven designated VHF frequencies. The frequencies are: 162.400, 162.425, 162.450, 162.475, 162.500, 162.525, and 162.550 MHz. On some receivers the frequency channels are in numerical order from Channel 1 to Channel 7, but on others the frequencies are arranged in an alternate order with the same channel numbering scheme. The alternate numerical sequence is: Channel 1: 162.550, Channel 2: 162.400, Channel 3: 162.475, Channel 4: 162.425, Channel 5: 162.450, Channel 6: 162.500, Channel 7: 162.525 MHz. This numerical arrangement is on some older Weather Radios, scanners, and transceivers with the pre-programmed weather channels mentioned in the last issue. In Canada, some stations are on the low power FM or AM broadcast band. For example: Parry Sound Ontario has a repeater station to the Rosseau Weatheradio Canada transmitter. The Perry Sound station (CBPOFM) is at 88.9 MHz, while the Rosseau station (VBT629) is at 162.550 MHz. In some cases there are alternate VHF or UHF links to certain Weatheradio Canada stations. The Windsor Ontario station (VAZ533) is at 162.475 MHz, while there is a UHF link (VAZ826) on 407.285 MHz. Just to make things even more confusing, the station in Sarnia (XJV492) at 162.400 MHz is also a VHF repeater station to Windsor (VAZ533). If you want to dig deeper and find out more on these links you can go to http://www.dxinfocentre.com.
If you listened to Weatheradio Canada or NOAA Weather Radio these days, you may have noticed that they always have the same voices. It wasn’t always like that. When Weatheradio Canada and NOAA Weather Radio first started the information was manually recorded on tape cartridges and it was recorded by the meteorologists working at the Weather Office. It started to change when expansion of both NOAA Weather Radio and Weatheradio Canada happened. Weatheradio Canada started switching over in 1996 and NWR started to switch over in the late nineties. Today they both use a combination of synthesized speech and recorded messages in varying degrees. There are two different technologies used for the Text to Speech. NOAA uses phonetic based software that uses sound bites to make up the words, similar to what visually impaired people use for their computers, or what automated public address systems use for making special announcements in bus or train stations. Weatheradio Canada uses concatenation (stringing words together) segments of recorded speech from real people. The software used is an in house package called “AVIPADS” and it uses LinuxSoftware for programming purposes. NOAA. Weather Radio uses Nuance which can be used as a screen reading software for visually impaired people and for automated telephone answering services.
If you would like to hear all the voices that are heard on NOAA Weather Radio you can go to: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr, or http://www.nextup.com. Unfortunately there is no definitive website to go to for information on AVIPAD’s. However there are plans in the works to upgrade the AVIPAD’s software to a newer version called “AVIPAD’S 2. This will allow for the possibility of including phonetic text to speech like on NOAA Weather Radio. There is unfortunately no timeline for the installation.
In the next Weather Wednesday post, I will give you an explanation on how the data is transmitted on Weatheradio Canada by one of the Dissemination Specialists.

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