National Warning System (NAWAS)

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The National Warning System (NAWAS) is a comprehensive party line network of telephone circuits connecting state and Federal warning points throughout the United States. Funded by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), NAWAS is a national system under the control of individual states. Each state has its own plan for the use of NAWAS during weather emergencies. NWS offices use this network only in accordance with individual state plans. Normally, all warnings and watches will be disseminated on the appropriate NAWAS by the issuing office.[1]

Purpose of NAWAS

Washington NAWAS Network[5]
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The National Warning System (NAWAS) was originally designed and implemented in the 1950’s as a means of notifying and preparing for a nuclear attack. Fortunately the system was never used for its intended purpose, but has proven invaluable to local emergency managers responding to or coping with natural disasters.

Now, NAWAS is used to disseminate warning information concerning natural and technological disasters to approximately 2200 warning points throughout the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands.

NAWAS is used to disseminate warning information concerning natural and technological disasters to approximately 2200 warning points throughout the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands. This information includes acts of terrorism including Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) after aircraft incidents/accidents, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, nuclear incidents/accidents, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, tsunamis and winter storms/blizzards. NAWAS allows issuance of warnings to all stations nationwide or to selected stations as dictated by the situation.[2]

Transcript of NAWAS Disaster Response

There is a subset of NAWAS in California called CALWAS, which connects the Office of Emergency Services (OES) in Sacramento to the emergency operations centers of the 58 counties. In San Francisco’s case, the NAWAS/CALWAS circuit is connected to the emergency 9-1-1 center on Turk St. The following link is a transcript of a five-minute clip from the NAWAS emergency response to the Loma Prieta earthquake:[3]

NAWAS Transcript – Loma Prieta Earthquake – October 17, 1989

 


References:

  1. National Weather Service – Policy References – National Warning System: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/faqs/nawas.htm
  2. FEMA Manual 1550.2 – National Warning System Operations Manual: http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/1550_2.pdf
  3. Virtual Museum of San Francisco: http://www.sfmuseum.net/quake/nawas.html
  4. Image Source: http://www.emd.wa.gov/telcom/telcom_national_warning_systems.shtml [Accessed May18, 2013]

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