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Heavy Rain Possible in the Southeast, while Severe Weather Expected in the Great Plains

Slow-moving convection will bring the threat of flash flooding today in the Southeast. Meanwhile, strong to severe thunderstorms are expected across the Great Plains and upper Mississippi River Valley this afternoon and evening. Primary threats will be thunderstorms with damaging winds, large hail, and locally heavy rain. Read More >

Welcome to the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Hazards Simplification ("Haz Simp") Project! We are glad you are interested and hope you will take the opportunity to provide your feedback on how we might simplify and clarify the messages we provide when hazardous conditions occur.

The NWS is striving to support a “Weather-Ready Nation” by ensuring you are aware of and prepared for the variety of weather- and water-based hazards we experience across the country every day.  One factor in supporting this awareness and preparedness is to make sure our messaging is as clear and focused as possible.

On October 2, 2017, NWS implemented changes to its winter weather messaging. Please see the short video below for additional details.


Overview

For decades, the NWS has used the Watch, Warning, and Advisory (WWA) system to alert users of forecasted hazards. In many ways, the WWA system has been highly effective in protecting life and property. With that said, as we have collected feedback during the course of this project, we have 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, NWS is exploring alternatives for more effectively communicating our hazard messages. Some options include:

  • Keep the current WWA system as is;

  • Make small to moderate changes; or

  • Make a transformational change to the WWA system.

Given that the WWA system has been in place for a very long time, it will be important to weigh any and all new ideas carefully, and to consider making initial small improvements while we continue to investigate the possibility of larger change. To support both efforts, we are collecting public comments on these options as we move forward.

What is a “Repair”?

We are defining a WWA “Repair” as a relatively small change that could be implemented by altering our policy and/or making minor adjustments to our current weather and water hazard messaging system. This would include consolidation and reformatting our products as described in the above video.

What is a “Revamp”?

We are defining a WWA “Revamp” as a larger change that would require significant policy revision, could result in an overhaul and/or revisualization of the current hazard messaging paradigm, and/or could require major software adjustments. A Revamp would need to be widely advertised in advance, and would also require extensive education and outreach to facilitate any transition.

Other Data Collection Efforts

As we carry out our Repair comment collection process, we are also collecting other information that is critical to the project.

First, we have conducted a survey of federal, state, and local government partners, and private organizations to assess the level at which the WWA system is “institutionalized” into operational policies and law. The results of this “WWA Decision-maker Survey” will be posted soon in the "Reference Materials" tab on this site.

Second, we will also conduct a social science survey using a representative sample - this allows the results to be generalized to the broader U.S. public. This survey will help us to understand what words and formats most resonate with the general public and inform the level of change required of current system. Such changes could include modifications to WWA headlines and/or use of color to delineate differences in impact and certainty.

How You Can Participate

We will be asking for public comment on a variety of proposed Repair ideas. We will be advertising the opportunities for comment on this website, social media and via a variety of mailing lists. This page will be updated to include links to new comment opportunities as they become available - please view the “Repair” section of this website for more information and links to surveys.