Midland WR120 Review: Aaron says weather radios, like smoke detectors, are something we all need

Storm with lighteningMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Aaron Kuhn, who writes:

“Weather radio? I’ll just use my cellphone for alerts.”

If you’ve ever uttered or thought the above words – take heed.

Late last week I awoke at around 12:30 AM to the sound of some incredibly strong winds outdoors. Glancing down at my completely muted phone, I opened up my text messages to reveal a Tornado Warning. In a panic, I threw on some clothes, gathered a dog harness and leash and made my way the pantry closest for shelter.

Then I checked my phone again – and realized that tornado warning was from 30 minutes ago and already expired. Crap. That was too close for comfort. I promptly went on to Amazon and ordered the Midland WR120.

I unboxed and set the radio up yesterday and I’m quite happy with it.

The first thing I suggest doing after initial setup is turning off the button beeps which are incredibly annoying. Past that, I’ve found the radio perfect for my needs of setting it on a window sill and (hopefully) forgetting about it until it alerts me to any nearby danger.

Since SAME Alerts work on a county basis, I was very happy to discover this radio allows you to disable certain kinds of alerts that may not be relevant to you.

One thing that I think Midland should include in the box printed (instead of ads for weather apps they don’t publish anymore!) is the “Editable Events list:

By default, the radio doesn’t allow you to turn off 30 some events, including Tornado Warnings among them – this is a good thing in my opinion! However, it is a bit concerning when you first go to setup the radio and realized Tornado Warning is missing in the alert list. The reason for this is because this is one of the 30 some alerts you can’t disable.

Overall I’m happy with the radio, and hoping it’ll never fire off in the middle of the night on me any time soon – but I know it’ll be a lot more reliable than my cellphone prone to being muted.

I view weather radios like smoke alarms now, it’s stupid for you to not have one. I wasn’t expecting Tornadoes in November in Southeastern Pennsylvania, but apparently nature is one to surprise us continuously.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your WR120 review, Aaron.

I love this quote: “I view weather radios like smoke alarms now, it’s stupid for you to not have one.” I agree completely!

A few weeks ago, there was an alert sent to every phone in the US all at the same time. I received my alert nearly 30 minutes late. Mobile phones and their networks are pretty amazing technology, but they’re not flawless.

We are so lucky to have a robust weather radio broadcasting infrastructure here in the US and Canada. An inexpensive radio like the WR120 will deliver weather alerts reliably and give you a preparedness edge.

And thank you for mentioning the number of events you can edit out of the alert system. No sense in receiving alerts you don’t need.

In addition, some weather alert radios default to receive alerts from counties and regions surrounding your own. I would suggest turning those off–limiting the alert area to your own county–else you could get a lot of alerts that don’t pertain to your location. Using the smoke detector analogy, receiving alerts from surrounding counties is much like putting a smoke detector directly over your stove! You’re just asking for false alarms. 🙂

Thanks again, Aaron, for the important PSA!

Keep in mind as the holiday season approaches: weather radios make for life-saving, affordable gifts.

Click here check out the Midland WR120 ($26.56 shipped) on Amazon.com (affiliate link).

Post readers: Do you have any other weather alert radio suggestions?  Please comment with your suggestions and experience.

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7 thoughts on “Midland WR120 Review: Aaron says weather radios, like smoke detectors, are something we all need

  1. Mario

    Never had one of those alert radios but they sure can be useful. Guess I never had the need for one as there was always either a scanner or 2 meter radio (with expanded receive) somewhere in the house that could be used when the weather was iffy.

    Back in the 60’s we had KWO-35 from atop Rockefeller Center in NYC, it was one of the early-on weather stations operated by the Weather Bureau. Used to listen to wx b’casts on an old Lafayette AM/VHF portable radio. Back then there were real live humans manning the microphone, then came the console replacement program and computer generated b’casts.

    I miss those announcers, as I used to call in snow reports to Charlie Gianetta when I lived in PA back in the 80’s. He was the announcer for the regional NWS station and took reports from locals.

    At one time Radio Shack sold the DeskCube radio for that type of reception, along with the TimeCube (?) for WWV. A number of different models were sold under the Realistic brand. Technology has surely come a long way.

    Thanks for the post and review Aaron.

  2. joe

    Before there were automatic weather alerts there was common sense. Im not surprised that seemingly so many are soooo unaware of the weather – let alone their personal surroundings. Ive seen as many as 6 friends, sweathearts, school mates, and/or co workers sitting around the lunch table not talking to each other; all attention firmly planted in their individual phones… They wouldnt even move their feet to let the custodian mop the floor. These are the kinds of social misfits that NEED to be reminded to brush their teeth and wash their underwear. In fact these clumsy socialites need to awaken to the fact that there is life outside of internet… It frightens me to think the world will be in their hands in 10 or 20 years. When I was a kid, if there was bad weather coming, my dad kept his eye glued the tv and listened to the radio when he poked his head out the door… he was more aware of weather than anybody I ever knew. I suppose he took his responsibility as a parent and husband seriously. He wasnt going to let mother nature or the TV weather man get the jump on him. Although I agree that weather radios are helpful, I fear that individuals will be lulled into thinking that if there is no alert – there is no danger. A weather alert radio may be a fair supplement, but absolutely nothing can replace observation and awareness. BTW, I was in a house fire where the smoke alarms didnt function…. I was lulled into thinking the smoke detector would warn me of impending doom. Ill tell you whats stupid… Its stupid to count on your apartment manager to make sure the smoke alarms work.

    1. rtc

      Well said.

      I did not know the “weather apps” the local TV stations push are so

      A few minutes can be an eternity when bad storms are around.

      Some people resent intrusions into their little world…after our
      major tornado outbreak here in April 2011 all of the local TV
      wx people were criticised for either not personally warning
      them or for breaking in on their favorite show.

      Some were never found,they opened their front door hunting
      for the nearby “train” and were never seen again.


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