NWS Hazard Simplification Coming Soon

Peoria, IL - The National Weather Service's mission has always been and will continue to be saving lives and protecting property. One way they are trying to further their mission is simplifying how they send out warnings, watches, and advisories in the days leading up to a storm. 

The National Weather Service says they are "...striving to support a "Weather Ready Nation" by ensuring you are aware of and prepared for the variety of weather-and water-based hazards we experience across the country every day. One Factor in supporting this awareness and preparedness is to make sure our messaging is as clear and focused as possible."

Beginning October 2nd, the NWS will

  • Consolidate Lake Effect Snow Advisory and Freezing Rain Advisory in to Winter Weather Advisory. 
  • Consolidate Lake Effect Snow Watch and Blizzard Watch in to Winter Storm Watch.
  • Consolidate Lake Effect Snow Warning in to Winter Storm Warning for some selected areas.

The goal of consolidating these products is to simplify the message from the National Weather Service about hazardous weather that may be on the horizon or ongoing.

Including a handful of Civil Alerts, the NWS has more than 120 different watch, warning, and advisory products which often leads to a lot of confusion. The goal is to consolidate these products in to fewer products, which they believe will more effectively communicate the hazards of an incoming storm. 

For example, it's not unusual for forecasters to cancel a freezing rain advisory and replace it with a winter weather advisory due to minor changes in the hazard combination. The cancellation and re-issuance of these products can lead to a lot of confusion for the public. Since winter storms often include a combination of rain, sleet, snow and freezing rain, issuing individual advisories for each hazard can turn out to be rather confusing, especially during long-duration events and storms where the slightest shift in a storm's track can make the difference between snow and freezing rain.

Simply issuing a Winter Weather Advisory with details in the text for hazardous weather may lead to less confusion amongst the public. Ice Storm Warnings, Blizzard Warnings, and Winter Storm Warnings will all continue to be issued. 

In addition to product consolidation, they will be reformatting the text of their products in to the "What, Where, When, Additional Details, and Precautionary/Preparedness Action" format which uses bullet points to highlight the important information within the product. 

These changes were made based on feedback from the NWS' core partners and the public, along with support from social and behavioral scientists. 

The National Weather Service also plans to simplify the way flood products are issued in late winter/spring of 2018. These plans include consolidating Flash Flood Watch in to Flood Watch and reformatting the in product text to the new format mentioned above. 


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