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NWS proposes major change to weather alerts system

Now is your chance to shape the future of hazardous weather alerts
Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 6:36 PM EDT
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NEGAUNEE TWP, Mich. (WLUC) -

Our partners at the National Weather Service office in Negaunee Township are proposing some changes to the way certain hazardous weather alerts are issued. NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Matt Zika says these changes are years in the making.

"For over 50 years the National Weather Service has used a paradigm where we've used watches, warnings and advisories to get the word out about impending hazardous weather," Zika recalled.

But it's become more and more apparent that people don't know what an advisory means and that leads to confusion which can at times lead to lack of preparedness when severe weather hits.

"We're seeking feedback as to where we're going to eliminate the actual wording of an advisory from our product suite. It may change a little bit the way folks visually see the information that's being sent out to them. All in all, there'll still be a way to provide notification that something is going to go on out of the ordinary," Zika assured us.

This new wording would simply be easier for everyone to understand according to Marquette County Emergency Management Coordinator, Teresa Schwalbach.

"In looking at what they're proposing it would be a lot clearer, a lot easier for people to read. Because if you have too much information in a paragraph they're not going to read it. But if you just give them basic information of what it is, where it is, the impacts and then we'll plan for it," Schwalbach agreed.

You’ve got until August 21 of this year to submit your feedback by taking a brief online survey outlining exactly what changes may be made. The survey will take 10-15 minutes.

“From there, it’s probably still another year or so before a change would be made. And this isn’t just here across Upper Michigan. This is a proposal that would occur across the entire country, where they would eliminate the word advisory from our suite of information that we send out to the public,” Zika predicted.

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