National Weather Service to simplify extreme weather terms

(Photo supplied/National Weather Service)

The National Weather Service is changing some of its terminology to “plain speak”. They are keeping the watches and warnings the same, but they are eliminating a long list of “advisories”. But, it won’t happen until the year 2024.

“The terms ‘advisory’, watches and warnings really developed back when communication was very limited and you had to get a headline out to alert people,” said Sam Lashley, the warning coordination meteorologist, with the National Weather Service Indianapolis office. “Now with social media and the way we communicate, that is a little outdated.”

So, the Weather Service, on a national level, is following the recommendations of focus groups and surveys, in eliminating the term advisory.

“Rather than saying ‘a high wind advisory is in effect’, we’ll just simply say ‘strong winds today, up to 45 mph, can be expected.'”

Lashley said that will be followed up with frequent plain speak updates, so you’ll actually be able to get more information than before.

He said the Weather Service is basing the decision on information from hundreds of TV stations and emergency managers across the country, and also on surveys from the general public.

“They had an opportunity through our website to complete surveys and give their input.” From that information they determined that people understood watches and warnings, for the most part. But, advisories give people trouble.

So, the list of advisories being eliminated includes Winter Weather; Wind Chill; Dense Fog; Dense Smoke; Wind; Heat; Lake Wind; Frost; Blowing Dust; Dust; Ashfall; Freezing Fog; Air Stangnation; El Nino;/La Nina; Tsunami (this will now be a warning); Freezing Spray; Low Water; Brisk Wind; High Surf; Small Craft (now a warning); Lakeshore Flood; Coastal Flood; and Flood Advisories for areal and rivers.

Lashley said the reason it will take three years in because all of the vendors that take National Weather Service weather information, and the TV stations and emergency managers, said it will take at least two years to modify software to take the new info. Lashley said the Weather Service would have liked to be able to make the changes sooner.

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Charles U Farley March 9, 2021 at 2:39 pm

“Advisory” is to confusing for many Americans, so we will stop using it?

The dumbing down of America continues…

david March 9, 2021 at 4:49 pm

Another example of dumbing down.


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