FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- The National Weather Service office has made a final judgment on a survey they released in June 2020 asking "Should Advisories Go Away?"
After compiling the survey response, the data shows the phrase "advisory" was confusing and needs to be dropped.
Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Northern Indiana Michael Lewis said the survey results showed, "We need to do something, we need to do it quickly."
Initial data revealed the three-tiered advisory, watch, warning system was just too confusing.
Stanley Campbell is just one Fort Wayne resident who says they don’t confidently know the difference between the three.
When asked Do you know the difference between an advisory, a watch, and a warning?
Campbell responded, "I do not know the exact difference between those three."
A warning means life-threatening weather is happening now, a watch means it might happen, but there’s uncertainty. Where people get confused is what an advisory means.
An advisory means something is happening, but it’s not necessarily life-threatening.
Lewis explained that people acted on watches the same as advisories.
"Advisory was just muddying the waters, and oftentimes what we were finding is, we issue a watch and people are going to take action right now anyway, especially with winter," Lewis said.
The solution? The National Weather Service has decided to get rid of advisories.
No more Dense Fog Advisory, no more Winter Weather Advisory and no more Flood Advisory.
Lewis says the decision to drop advisories is driven by social sciences coming to an understanding of how people process information and react to it.
He explained, "For most people, it’s a yes or no, stay or go, walk, run and we’re really trying to get to the point of saying prepare, act."
So to replace advisories, simple messages and graphics like “light snow may impact travel” will be released to the public. With the hope that people pay more attention when life-threatening weather will occur.
Lewis explained that changes like this take time.
"They have to change their computer systems to handle something new, make sure their partner’s systems, like the media, that our systems will be able to handle the change. So, this is a change that is expected to start no earlier than 2024," Lewis said.