The Ottumwa Courier

December 12, 2012

NWS considers changes to hazard messages


DES MOINES — The National Weather Service is asking the public for feedback on a proposal to change how it issues weather alerts.

Currently, the NWS uses three terms to describe weather situations where people could find themselves in danger: Watch, advisory and warning.

Watches are issued when forecasters believe there is a potential for dangerous  weather. An advisory indicates an imminent hazard that could become dangerous if people do not use caution. Warnings mean a dangerous weather even is happening or imminent.

If severe thunderstorms are forecast, the phrasing is that "The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch."

Under the proposed changes, the phrasing would become "The National Weather Service forecasts the potential for severe thunderstorms."

Officials believe the change could reduce confusion about what is happening, thus helping people to make appropriate decisions about their responses.

You can read about the changes and leave comments by visiting