NWS makes changes to its flooding alerts system


BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Starting Thursday, Nov. 4, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Blacksburg is changing how it issues alerts regarding flooding, specifically the format for flooding-related watches, warnings, and advisories.

It’s all part of an initiative called Hazard Simplification aimed at reducing confusion and making it easier for the public to understand the alerts.

“For this hazard simplification project, this is going to simplify the communication of information and improve the understanding of our Flood Watches, Warnings and Advisories so the public can better respond to flooding threats.”

Phil Hysell, NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist in Blacksburg

Some of the changes the NWS will now implement in issuing Flood Watches, Warnings, and Advisories (WWA) include:

  • Flash Flood Watches and Flood Watches are being consolidated into one Flood Watch product for instances where excessive rainfall is the immediate cause.
  • However, Flash Flood Watch will remain and be reserved only for use in rare situations such as dam failures, ice jams, and other causes not directly related to excessive rainfall.
  • Specific information will be added in a What/Where/When format to all Flood WWAs except Flash Flood Warnings
  • Wording will be more concise and, overall, easier for the public to understand
  • Several different types of Flood Advisories, including Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisories, will be consolidated to Flood Advisory which will now cover all minor flooding instances.

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