National Weather Service to bring changes to weather ‘advisories’ beginning in 2024

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — On March 4th, the National Weather Service announced their decision to get rid of weather “advisories” including “special weather statements”, and replace them with
“plain language headlines.”

This has been something talked about within the weather community for a good few years, and even though the decision was made official just days ago it won’t take place right away.

The present (WWA) system to get urgent weather messages to the public include watches, warnings, and advisories. The reason for this change comes from social science experiments conducted with results suggesting a general misunderstanding found in the public’s perception of what exactly to expect under an advisory, and often mixing them up with watches. Since the message was found to be more confusing than not, a change was needed to better communicate this information.

Exceptions to the change will include Center Weather Advisories (flight/air travel) along with space weather and tropical advisories. Present tsunami and small craft advisories will eventually switch over to just “warnings” as well.

Note: No changes will be made to the current criteria behind watches and warnings.

Overall, the “advisory” per-say isn’t going away as much as it’s being replaced with different phrasing. The hope is to help get rid of any possible confusion, or misunderstandings that come across in the weather message.

What might this change look like?

Image courtesy NWS

This is just an idea of what these new “plain language statements” will look like. Instead of stating a “winter weather advisory is in effect for the following…” it may read something like, “snow accumulations of 4-6 inches expected with wind gusts 40+ mph…”

See the full Public Information Statement HERE

To allow time for adjustments and final preparations on what these statements will look like, the change won’t take place until 2024. A survey will be released in the near future so you can offer what you think these statements should say/look like. Stay tuned!

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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