Forecasters Seek Input On New Weather Alert Language

By Scott Graf

The National Weather Service is considering a change in the way it notifies the public of severe weather. Traditionally, government forecasters have issued watches, warnings and advisories. Now, the public is being asked to weigh in a test program that’s using some new language. Scott Graf explains.

Nationally, 26 Weather Service locations are part of a pilot program that started this month. That includes offices in Pocatello, Idaho, Medford Oregon and Missoula, Montana. Forecasters there are now issuing weather alerts that explain what kind of weather conditions are being forecast, and how likely that weather is.

“For a winter storm watch, for instance, it would say ‘The National Weather Service forecasts the potential for a significant winter storm, or a dangerous winter storm’.”

John Keyes (Keez) - with the National Weather Service office in Pocatello – says that’s more information than what’s currently provided.
“And we’re trying to reach those people that if we can explain things a little bit better, maybe a little bit simpler language, something they can understand, we’ll be able to get them to react better to some of these situations.”

The trial runs through March. Keyes says the Weather Service will then sift through feedback before making a final decision. Anyone interested in learning more, or offering their input, can go to

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