Associated Press, Published January 04 2013
Weather service seeks comments on winter weather hazard messagesBISMARCK — National Weather Service offices in more than a dozen states are surveying the public online about possible changes to how the agency delivers winter weather hazard messages.
Some people might not understand the distinction between terms such as "watch," "warning," and "advisory," and might not respond to the conditions properly, the weather service states in its published overview of the effort.
"We want to start a conversation on how we might simplify and clarify our products," meteorologist John Paul Martin told The Bismarck Tribune. Martin is a National Weather Service warning coordinator in Bismarck, North Dakota's capital.
The online survey provides side-by-side comparisons of actual weather headlines. During heavy snowfall in western South Dakota on Wednesday, for example, the official headline on the Rapid City weather service website notified the public of a "winter weather advisory" while an alternative advised "caution for snow and blowing snow." Some areas got a foot or more of snow.
Twenty-six weather service offices in 15 states are taking part in the project through March. The majority are in northern states, from Idaho in the west to Maine in the east. Ten of the participating offices are in the Upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Minnesota, which often see harsh winters.
National Weather Service project overview: http://nws.weather.gov/haz_simp/messages.php?wfo=BIS
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.