Flood alert simplification postponed to later date



LINCOLN, Ill. (Heart of Illinois ABC) – The National Weather Service announced on August 20th that the planned consolidation and reformatting of flood watches, warnings, and advisories will be postponed to a later date.

This announcement comes at a time where many parts of the country are experiencing significant flooding issues, Tennessee and New England being the prime examples. According to a memo sent to NWS partners and employees, the announcement to postpone is due to technical issues internally are resolved. The change has been pushed to a yet-to-be-determined date.

We reached out to Darrin Hansing, Service Hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Lincoln for comment on the postponement and what the public should know about the impending changes.

“We’re making a fairly big change to our hydrologic products. So anytime we’re talking about public messaging, especially with respect to watches, warnings and advisories, need to make absolutely certain that there are zero problems and in software is operating as expected.” Said Hansing.

The changes, when they are implemented, will be as follows:

Flash Flood Watches and Flood Watches will be consolidated into one Flood Watch product when the immediate cause is excessive rainfall. Flash Flood Watches will be maintained for these specific situations only:

Threat of flash flooding due to non-consectutive causes (dam or levee failure, ice jam).
Threat of flash flooding and debris flows caused by excessive rainfall on burn scars or in debris flow-landslide-prone areas.

The five types of individual headlines associated with Flood Advisory products, including Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisories will be consolidated into Flood Advisories.

The Flood Watch and Flood Warnings forecast points will be reformatted into “What,” “Where,” “When, “Impacts, and “Additional Information” in that order.

“It’s been in process for for some time as well and really the goal is to reduce the number of products consolidate, you know what we’re putting out to really make it more effective for the public to understand what their hazards are and how it might impact them.” Said Hansing.

The National Weather Service has announced that they plan on eliminating Advisory headlines across all hazards with plain language headlines no earlier than 2024. The consolidations outlined in this article will take place ahead of that as planned.

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