NWS to Stop Using “Advisory” in Its Hazard Messaging by 2024

Eli Jacks, the Chief of the NWS Forecast Services Division, released a statement this morning that there will be a major change to the NWS Hazard Messaging Headlines by discontinuing “Advisory” due to the confusion that the term causes, especially compared to a watch or warning. We mostly see Wind Advisories and Significant Weather Advisories in the Central Alabama area. Those will now be replaced with plain language headlines that will clearly state what is occurring and what to expect. These changes will go into effect by 2024. Here is the text of the PNS:

SUBJECT: Planned Major Change to NWS Hazard Messaging Headlines no earlier than calendar year 2024.

The NWS will be implementing changes to its hazard messaging headlines no earlier than calendar year 2024. This decision is based on results of extensive social science research with partners and the public, which documented significant confusion with current NWS headline terms.

This research indicated that NWS “Advisory” headlines are responsible for a major portion of the confusion. This is because the Advisory term itself is misunderstood and its meaning is often conflated with that of “Watch.” Such confusion can lead to a misunderstanding of forecast severity and certainty with respect to significant weather and water hazards. This, in turn, can adversely impact user preparation for (and response to) these hazards.

The major changes are as follows:

– All “Advisory” headlines within what is currently the NWS Watch, Warning and Advisory system will be discontinued. Most of the current Advisory headlines will be replaced with plain language headlines that clearly articulate the nature of the hazard. However, these messages will still be equipped with computer-readable Valid Time Event Code (VTEC) as they are today.

– Exceptions to the transition to plain language will apply to Tsunami and Small Craft Advisories. These Advisories will be elevated to the Warning level due to the life-threatening conditions associated with these hazards. The exact title of the Warning for what is now a Tsunami Advisory is to be determined.

– All “Special Weather Statements” (SPS’) will be discontinued, also in favor of plain language headlines. In addition, these converted messages will, for the first time, be equipped with computer-readable VTEC and placed in a bulleted “What, Where, When, Impacts” format.

The exact language to be used in the plain language headlines for each affected hazard is still to be determined. NWS will host partner webinars and collect public feedback via on-line surveys during 2021 to inform development of plain language headlines. Additional Public Information Statements will be issued in the coming weeks to announce these feedback opportunities.

More information from this statement can be found at https://www.weather.gov/media/notification/pdf2/pns21-12_haz_simp_headlines.pdf.

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