National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Date Posted: July 3, 2017

The first changes to the NWS Watch, Warning, and Advisory (WWA) system will be implemented on October 1 based on social science findings from the Hazard Simplification (Haz Simp) project. These initial changes will apply to some our winter WWA products only.

In both Fall 2016 and Spring 2017, the Haz Simp project team asked NWS partners and the public to comment on a series of proposals to reduce the number of products issued for certain hazard types and simplify the format of NWS Winter and Flood products. The reformatting proposal uses a consistent message format: “What”, “Where”, “When”, “Additional Details” and “Precautionary/ Preparedness Actions”.

These proposals were developed based on multiple social science engagements, including focus groups, surveys and the 2015 Hazard Simplification Workshop. Participants included the public, broadcasters, emergency managers, and other members of the Weather, Water and Climate Enterprise.

Considered together, the feedback on our consolidation and reformatting proposals have been consistently positive, so we are now planning to move forward with implementing these changes. Here are the specific elements of what we plan to implement starting this Fall:

  • Consolidate Lake Effect Snow Advisory and Freezing Rain Advisory into Winter Weather Advisory
  • Consolidate Lake Effect Snow Watch and Blizzard Watch into Winter Storm Watch
  • Consolidate Lake Effect Snow Warning into Winter Storm Warning (selected Central Region sites only)

In all of the above cases, all winter weather messages (including wind chill) will follow the standard formatting approach cited above.

The second set of changes, which will apply to all flood products nationwide, will be implemented with the deployment of AWIPS 17.3.1, currently scheduled for late winter/early spring 2018:

  • Consolidate Flash Flood Watch into Flood Watch
  • Reformat all Flood products (including River Point products) into a “What, Where, When, Additional Details, and Precautionary/Preparedness Actions” format

For both winter and flood products, those products which are to be consolidated will no longer be issued.

An official Service Change Notification (SCN) was released on June 16, 2017 announcing our intent to roll-out these changes on October 1, 2017. Leading up to this date, the Haz Simp Team will be working with representatives from the Service Program Teams, Service Delivery portfolios, the Program Management Office and your Regional Headquarters to ensure a smooth transition, and to update necessary policies as this change is made. The Haz Simp Team will also be working with the Office of the Chief Learning Officer to provide forecaster training webinars to be offered to all WFO staff.

This is a major step forward for the Haz Simp project and the NWS as we continue to improve our hazard messaging system