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National Weather Service potentially eliminating weather ‘advisories’

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 6:21 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The National Weather Service (NWS) is asking for public opinion on the potential elimination of weather ‘advisories’ from its current warning system.

According to Mike Bardou, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the NWS Chicago office in Romeoville says this is part of an ongoing effort by the NWS to simplify their current warning system. The project, known as ‘Haz Simp’ for short is part of the ongoing research where the NWS believes that the 122 different watches, warnings and advisories currently in their system is too much and creates confusion.

There are 122 different products that are issued by the NWS for upcoming weather threats.
There are 122 different products that are issued by the NWS for upcoming weather threats.(National Weather Service)

There are 122 different watches, warnings and advisories each representing a specific type of weather or threat. With all of these in play, the NWS thinks there are too many of those products. In their current system, the National Weather Services issues a watch first when significant weather is possible but details and/or timing of the impacts is still uncertain.

A watch could be the precursor to a warning if life threatening weather is imminent or an advisory if the threat is more likely to be an inconvenience. In some cases, both can be issued without a watch beforehand.

Watches, warnings and advisories are all part of the current NWS warning system.
Watches, warnings and advisories are all part of the current NWS warning system.(Ethan Rosuck)

The NWS says with this project and its conducted surveys so far, most of the public is confused on what a weather advisory means. “Studies that have been done by the haz-simp project, something like 14-15 percent of those surveyed gave the accurate response what an advisory or what should be done when an advisory is issued. It’s confused with the warning terminology. So from that stand point, that certainly suggests that we should evaluate what we’re doing and seek some improvements,” Bardou says.

If changes are made, advisories would go away. Once those are out of the picture, watches and warnings will remain. A watch will be issued before a warning most of the time.

By eliminating advisories, only watches and warnings would remain.
By eliminating advisories, only watches and warnings would remain.(Ethan Rosuck)

However, the information that is still present in advisories will stick around. Instead of being attached to an ‘advisory’ the NWS will issue a message highlighting threats in a simple, plain language statement. Officials say this will be easier to understand by using the ‘what, where, when and impacts’ format.

The information that weather advisories still have would stay, but without the advisory name.
The information that weather advisories still have would stay, but without the advisory name.(Ethan Rosuck)

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