Small craft advisory may be gone this summer

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – Issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) Buffalo office, for anyone that regularly gets weather alerts this one is the most common for Western New York. The definition is “Sustained winds or frequent gusts (on the Great Lakes) between 20 and 33 knots inclusive, and/or seas or waves greater than 4 feet.”

In an attempt to continually clean up the cluttered watch, warning, and advisory system by the National Weather Service (also known as hazard simplification) the small craft advisory is being proposed to get changed into a small craft warning. There will be no change in criteria to meet for this to be issued, but the name will be different. This is part of the overall goal of eliminating the term “advisory”. Below is what a typical text looks like for these advisories.

Within the weather and forecasting community, the word “warning” has a much more significant connotation to it than an advisory. A winter weather advisory and a winter storm warning are two very different things. One could mean a few inches of nuisance snow while the other could be a snowstorm to bring two feet of snow across the region. In this case, the criteria would remain the same, so the high frequency of small craft advisories issued would be the same frequency that the small craft warnings would be issued.

This brings up the concern of people becoming dull to the word “warning” if it is so frequently used. While this may seem insignificant, if inaction is taken because the word warning is so commonly used, that could cause concern for protecting life and property. On the other side, a simple reduction in the amount of words used by the NWS could be the simplification needed to streamline communication with the public.

More information on this proposal can be found here. Public input on this change is being accepted through May 24. You can share feedback by completing a survey here.

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