Proposal by the NWS: changes to the current Watch, Warning, and Advisory system being discussed

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – Another possible change to the way weather information is conveyed to the public is under discussion. The National Weather Service Headquarters office located in Silver Spring, Maryland is proposing the discontinuation of the weather “Advisory,” “Special Weather Statement,” and “Short Term Forecast” headlines. 

The project is called the National Weather Service (NWS) Hazard Simplification (Haz Simp) project, and would be a pretty big change to us here in Rochester given our frequency of Winter Weather Advisories we receive in the wintertime among others. 

The current system in place is known as the “Watch, Warning, and Advisory” (WWA) system and has been used for decades. The replacement to the “Advisory” product would be the use of more generic and “plain language” statements to convey the same information but in a more organized, concise manner.  

The thought process behind this is that using the replaced method would be a simpler way to convey events that don’t quite meet the watch or warning criteria. In other words, it won’t “over-hype” the event while at the same time eliminating multiple ways of saying the same thing. 

Sometimes the advisory can often be confused with a watch, even though they mean different things. The NWS is hoping having less products in place this will lead to less confusion and better preparedness actions taking place.

*Note – The “Watches” and “Warnings” you typically see will not change as a result of this proposal.  

Here is an example of what a current “Advisory” product looks like:

..and here is an example of what the proposed “statement” could look like:

What does this mean for you, the public?

If this proposal is implemented, “Winter Weather Advisories” among others would cease to exist, with the “statements” shown above being issued by the NWS instead.

It’s not clear how this information could be displayed on weather graphics used by broadcast meteorologists, or if we will need to find a way to communicate this separately from watches and warnings. 

Communication between the public and meteorologists play a very important role in how effective we are as communicators of science, and lately a lot of light is being shed on better ways to improve how we communicate weather information to the public that best suit everyone’s needs.

Comments and feedback on these proposed changes may be directed to the NWS until August 21, 2020 via an online survey form at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/publichazsimp

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