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.{ }{ }

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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.{ }{ }

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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.