Changes in Winter Weather Wording


There’s a change within the National Weather Service that most people probably haven’t noticed. It’s something that’s going on at a national level and started in October.

Zach Prelutsky tells us what ‘winter words’ we should watch for this season.

When the calendar starts getting to those later months, there are a few phrases that most people don’t enjoy hearing.

“We might have blizzard watches, winter storm watches, different kinds of watches.“

The National Weather Service is rolling out what they call a “major step” to improve their hazard messaging system. Instead of hearing phrases like “freezing rain watch” or “blizzard watch” they will be consolidated into one headline winter weather advisory, winter storm watch, and winter storm warning.

Warning coordination meteorologist with the La Crosse National Weather Service, Todd Shea, hopes its easier for the public.

“All trying to kind of brainstorm ways to make the information easier to understand and sometimes when there were different watches out or different types of advisories and we’re all kind of talking about the same storm or same weather this kind of simplifies that headline if you will.”

This has been something that has been in the works for the past half-decade and took a lot of internal discussions trying to find what they believe is the best solution.

For right now the change officially began at the beginning of October, but depending on what the winter is like those at the National Weather Service won’t know exactly how the public reacts to it.

“It’s going to take a year or two, we’re going to have to wait to see how things go this winter, maybe next year and then they may perhaps do a reanalysis of some of the feedback they get back from the public, but also media partners and emergency management.“

While you might not see the weather map colored up with different warnings and advisories anymore, more detailed information on what type of weather there is to be expected will still be available.

“We’re gonna still have detailed information of what we expect and what kind of impact the weather is going to occur, but it’s just more of whatever the title is, whatever we call it is going to be more unified now.“

People say that it won’t affect them that much because they are used to winter in Wisconsin.

“Even though it’s gonna be blizzard snow all of the above it’s easy to catch the bus and come back downtown and catch the other bus to go to school so it really doesn’t affect me much at all.“

But that does not mean people think it is a bad change.

“That actually does make it a little simpler, I’m a pretty particular person, I like to know how to dress so it definitely helps me to know which shoes to wear.“

While this is not a common occurrence for the National Weather Service it’s not the first time they’ve done something like this and it won’t be the last.

“I think we, again the flood information we’re expecting perhaps to go into effect next spring. I don’t have any details on that but that will consolidate the types of watches just into one which I think will help things as well I think headlines are really important and a lot of time because of the world we live in people are constantly on the go, the headline is the one that always gives most of the information so now with it just being a winter storm warning, for that example, they aren’t going to be able to do that as we head into the thick of winter, see if you can pay a little more attention when you hear winter weather is on the way because it could help you pick out the right pair of shoes.”

In La Crosse, Zach Prelutsky, Fox 25/48 News at Nine.

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