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Behind the Forecast: Why the National Weather Service is eliminating ‘Advisories’

Listen to Science Behind the Forecast with Meteorologist Tawana Andrew every Friday on 89.3 WFPL at 7:45 a.m.
Updated: Mar. 12, 2021 at 9:16 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Some big changes are coming to the way that the National Weather Service (NWS) distributes important weather information.

Right now, the NWS issues Watches, Warnings, Advisories, and Special Weather Statements. Here’s why each is issued, per the National Weather Service:

  • Watch: Issued when a life- and/or property-threatening event is possible - but not yet certain
  • Warning: Issued when a life- and/or property-threatening event is happening or about to happen
  • Advisory: Issued when an event less serious than a Warning is happening or about to happen
  • Special Weather Statement: Issued when an event less serious (or of shorter duration) than an Advisory is happening or about to happen

No sooner than 2024, the NWS will no longer issue “Advisories.” Their research found that the term “Advisory” caused significant confusion and was often confused with a “Watch.” To avoid misinterpretations and confusion, the NWS decided to get rid of Advisories.

Advisories would be replaced with a “plain language” headline that will  “clearly articulate the nature of the hazard,” according to the NWS. These new headlines will detail the what, when, where, and impacts of the relevant weather hazard. For example, Winter Weather Advisories would no longer exist. The National Weather Service said they’d be replaced by a headline that could read “Caution: Coating of snow expected during the morning commute.”

The National Weather Service will eliminate Advisories and Special Weather Statements.
The National Weather Service will eliminate Advisories and Special Weather Statements.(NWS/NOAA)

Tsunami and Small Craft Advisories are the exceptions to this change. These Advisories are will be upgraded to Warnings because of their life-threatening nature.

“Special Weather Statements” (SPS) will also be phased out and replaced with “plain language headlines.”

While the exact wording is still being worked on, NWS explained that the headlines would not include any complicated terminology. How these headlines would be displayed visually or on maps has also not been determined.

Here’s a list of the Advisories that will be discontinued.

  • Winter Weather Advisory
  • Lake Wind Advisory
  • Air Stagnation Advisory (Issued in collaboration with the EPA)
  • High Surf Advisory
  • Wind Chill Advisory
  • Frost Advisory
  • El Nino/La Nina Advisory
  • Small Craft Advisory (transitions to “Warning”)
  • Dense Fog Advisory
  • Blowing Dust Advisory
  • Tsunami Advisory (transitions to “Warning”)
  • Lakeshore Flood Advisory
  • Dense Smoke Advisory
  • Dust Advisory
  • Freezing Spray Advisory
  • Coastal Flood Advisory
  • Wind Advisory
  • Ashfall Advisory
  • Low Water Advisory
  • Flood Advisory (Areal)
  • Heat Advisory
  • Freezing Fog Advisory
  • Brisk Wind Advisory
  • Flood Advisory (River)
The changes will occur no sooner than 2024.
The changes will occur no sooner than 2024.(National Weather Service)

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