NWS Changes Winter Weather Messaging

Starting today, the National Weather Service (NWS) will implement changes to its winter weather messaging, in a process being called Hazards Simplification (“Haz Simp”).

For decades, the NWS has used the Watch, Warning, and Advisory (WWA) system to alert users of forecast hazards. In many ways, the WWA system has been highly effective in protecting life and property. The NWS has been collecting feedback during the last few years, and has learned that some users find the WWA terms confusing. Also, users are sometimes confused about how to interpret and distinguish among the large number of individual WWA “products” (e.g., Wind Advisory, Flood Watch, Winter Storm Warning).

Based on this initial feedback, and with support from social and behavioral scientists, the NWS explored alternatives for more effectively communicating hazardous messages.

Starting this winter, the National Weather Service will issue shorter messages that follow a standard format that will address the “what, where, and when” of winter hazards, as shown below.

In addition to these shorter messages, the NWS will also be reducing their original hazard types. This includes removing the use of the blizzard watch, freezing rain advisory, lake effect snow watch & advisory. Combining winter weather hazard types into similar impacts into a broader category, will allow the NWS to focus their messages more on the impacts that your community may face.

Winter weather is only the beginning. The National Weather Service will also begin making changes for flooding, wind, marine, and extreme heat. What do you think of the new changes? Will it make the watches and warnings more clear when it comes to potential hazard types? We would like to hear your thoughts.

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Zach Sharpe

My name is Zach Sharpe. I am the president and forecaster for the Iowa Storm Chasing Network. You can find me on Twitter @Stormchaserzach and on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/stormchaserzach/

One Comment

  1. As long as they keep the Blizzard Warnings and drivers will be able to heed warnings ahead of time. I can see using freezing rain advisory under winter weather advisory or a special weather statement, as freezing rain is after all usually in winter time. Though some don’t take advisories or winter storm watches and warnings as seriously.

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