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Town Hall Meeting: Watch out! A review of the National Weather Service's watch, warning, advisory hazard messaging system. It's advised you attend. You have been warned!

Scientific Program: Conferences and Symposia
View by day and at-a-glance, includes author index and personal scheduler

Monday, 5 January 2015, 12:15–1:15 P.M.; Room 121BC

For generations, the National Weather Service has utilized the terms "Watch", "Warning", and "Advisory" (WWA) to convey expectations of impact and level of forecast certainty associated with expected weather and water hazards. However, results of numerous NWS Service Assessments, initial social science research and other interactions with partners and the public suggests that many people misunderstand these terms - or confuse the terms one to another. In addition, there exists confusion among the 100+ products NWS uses to differentiate among the type, impact and forecast certainty of these hazards.

In response, NWS has initiated a "Hazards Simplification (or "Haz Simp") study to assess whether there may exist alternatives to WWA that would prove to be more intuitive, more easily understood and/or more easily communicated to users for the purpose of inspiring desired action by the public. This effort has now engaged social research and Phase I of this research has now been completed.  High level results from the 20 focus groups held among the public, emergency managers, broadcasters and NWS forecasters during Phase I are as follows:

  • Most people misunderstand the term "Advisory".
  • Many supported the use of a hierarchical, color-based scheme to express varying levels of forecast certainty and impact (such as is employed by the European "Meteoalarm" system).
  • Some people believe the system is working well enough and that enhanced education would increase understanding.
  • Any change should be considered carefully and executed gradually.

The purpose of this Town Hall will be to present the results of "Haz Simp Phase I" and engage discussion from participants on their reaction and suggested options/alternatives for moving forward based on these results.  Feedback on how "institutionalized" WWA is in partner and public decision making processes will also be welcomed.  Also, all Annual Meeting attendees will be invited to visit the "Haz Simp" booth in the Exhibition Hall, where prototypes developed based on the Phase I results will be available for comment as part of Phase II of this project.


Our goal is no more than 20 minutes of presentations.

This Town Hall is about YOU and your feedback!

Opening Remarks

Bob Ryan, Moderator, CCM and formerly Chief Meteorologist at WJLA-TV, NBC in Washington, DC

NWS Headquarters Perspective

Eli Jacks, NWS, Chief, Fire and Public Weather Services Branch, Silver Spring, MD

An International Perspective: Meteo Alarm

Pat Boyle, UK Met Office

FACETS: Movement Toward Change

Lans Rothfusz, Deputy Director, National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, OK

A Social Science Perspective

Gina Eosco, Senior Social Scientist and Risk Communication Specialist, Eastern Research Group, Arlington, VA

Town Hall Discussion

For additional information, please contact Gina Eosco (email: Gina.Eosco@erg.com) or Eli Jacks (email: elliott.jacks@noaa.gov).