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John Wheeler, Published December 25 2012

Weather Talk: Plan would change wording of winter weather alerts

For years, there has been public confusion regarding the wording the National Weather Service uses for winter hazard messages.

The National Weather Service has issued “snow advisories” or “freezing rain advisories” for moderately significant conditions or a “winter storm warning” for more serious situations. And when these serious situations are anticipated, oftentimes a “winter storm watch” is issued. The problem is the public is not always clear about the difference between a watch, a warning and an advisory.

A new plan under consideration would change the wording on these moderately significant situations to “the National Weather Service advises caution for snow.” And when a developing winter storm shows potential to become serious, the National Weather Service will state they are “forecasting the potential for heavy snow” (or whatever the potential is for).

The language for the familiar “winter storm warning” will remain unchanged.


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