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WATCH: NWS Simplifying Winter Weather Alerts

By Nick Davis, September 18, 2017

On October 2nd, the National Weather Service will implement changes to the winter weather messaging plan.

Many of the changes will not affect Iowa, including the elimination of Lake Effect Advisories, watches and warnings. However, two of the changes will see watches often issued in Iowa be merged with other advisories.

Beginning October 2nd, the NWS will no longer issue Lake Effect Snow Advisories, watches or warnings, freezing rain advisories or blizzard watches. Instead those advisories will be consolidated with other products.

A freezing rain advisory will now become simply a winter weather advisory. A blizzard watch will become simply a winter storm watch. Blizzard warnings will continue to be issued when conditions warrant.

While the five consolidated products noted above will no longer be issued, the service will still be provided. Instead of issuing products specifically catered to lake effect snow, freezing rain, and blizzards (only in the case of watches for blizzards), the information will be provided in the “what” section of existing alerts.

Winter weather alerts will also be reformatted to match the popular and easy to read summer alerts, including the “what, where, when, additional details and precautionary/preparedness actions” format.

The NWS says additional changes will be implemented in late winter/early spring of 2018, including nationwide changes to flood alerts.

The NWS says flash flood watches are expected to be eliminated and consolidated into flood watches, and that all flood alerts will be reformatted to an easier to read and understand format.

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