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National Weather Service Seeks Feedback on Terminology Change to Help Warn Boaters

Small Craft Advisory to Change to Small Craft Warning

From the National Weather Service website:

For decades, the National Weather Service (NWS) has used the Watch, Warning, and Advisory (WWA) system to alert users to expected weather and water hazards. Over the years, social science research has found that the headline terms can introduce confusion. Specifically, we have found that the “Advisory” headline is widely misunderstood and is often confused with “Watch”. We have also found that “Watch” and “Warning” are also sometimes confused.

Based on the totality of the feedback, NWS is considering a major change to the Watch, Warning, and Advisory (WWA) system. The proposed new system would remove the term “Advisory,” “Special Weather Statement,” and “NOWcast” headline terms, and streamline all sub-Watch and sub-Warning information into a single plain-language headline “Statement”, with a few exceptions, one being Small Craft Advisory (SCA).

The proposed new system would have only two flagship headline terms (Watch and Warning). The NWS would only “raise the flag” for events that require users to “Prepare” (Watch) or “Act” (Warning) for significant events that threaten life and/or property. Since a “Small Craft Advisory” requires vessels of a certain size to “Act”, it would be upgraded to a “Small Craft Warning” under this new paradigm. The NWS uses regional criteria for issuing Small Craft Advisories, so the new Small Craft Warning product would use these same criteria.

Currently, Small Craft Advisories are issued when sustained wind speeds or frequent gusts of 20 to 33 knots (regionally defined) and/or seas or waves 4 feet and greater and/or waves or seas are potentially hazardous.

Boaters are encouraged to give their feedback using this survey link:

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