Weather Watches and Warnings: An Experiment for Better Understanding

      For many years, there has been public confusion of the difference between a weather "Watch" and a weather "Warning" especially various winter weather statements and terms issued by the National Weather Service.{}Here are some examples and discussion{}of the confusion the Wa-Wa{}statements (as we meteorologists refer to the current wording) cause.{}

      After much hard work ( including dealing with much legacy) a team within the National Weather Service is conducting an experiment this winter to see how significant changes in wording for preparation before storms, may help eliminate the confusion.{} The experiment products delete the word "WATCH" from preparation statements and will only use "WARNING" meaning it is time for people affected by any upcoming storm to take action.{} Here is an example of the current and proposed wording.{}{}

      Here are the local forecast offices that will be participating in this experimental program this winter.{}{}


      The local forecast office here in Washington will not be participating because it is already involved in several projects involving better, more effective communication of winter weather and snowfall forecasts.{} But the National Weather Service wants your input.{} Frankly for many years I have been pushing for such a change.{} Some studies have show that as many as 60% of people are confused between what is a "Watch" and what is a "Warning".{}

      The National Weather Service is your service.{} Effective communication is critical in helping you make the best weather related decision.{} Government officials, various government organizations, emergency managers all have an interest, and frankly I think some legacy in maintaining the current system and language.{} But you the public are our most important customer.{} Let your National Weather Service know what you think and learn more here.{}{}


      Oh and make sure to take part in our poll on the subject.{} I'll share it with the program leader of this very worthwhile effort and initiative.