NWS Implements Changes to Flood Watches and Advisories


FILE – A worker retrieves a grappling hook on the dock next to Bubba’s restaurant on the water in Virginia Beach, Va., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Voters in Virginia Beach will consider whether to vote for a $500 million bond on election day that would be used for protection against flooding from rising seas and intensifying hurricanes.(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(WVNS) — In 2014 the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) began implementing the “Hazard Simplification Program”.

The goal of this program was to simplify the types of warnings, watches, and advisories that are issued by local NWS offices; such as the offices in Charleston, WV, and Blacksburg, VA which cover southern West Virginia. In the most recent phase of the project beginning November 4, flood products have been consolidated and simplified for easier messaging.

The first major change being implemented is the term “Flood Watch”, which will now be used for all situations where there is the potential for flooding due to forecasted heavy rain. Previously, either a “Flash Flood Watch” or a “Flood Watch” would have been issued instead. For non-convective events, such as the failure of a dam/levee, “Flash Flood Watches” will still be issued.

May be an image of boots and text that says 'We are consolidating our flood products Current Products Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory, Arroyo and Small Stream Flood Advisory, Small Stream Flood Advisory, Flood Advisory, Hydrologio Advisory Flash Flood Watch, Flood Watch New Consolidated Products Flood Advisory *Flash Flood Watches will still be issued for non convective events (e.g. dam break) Flood Watch* for excessive rain falling overa burn scar'
Image Credit: NOAA/NWS

Other changes include simplifying the majority of different flood advisory products into one, in an effort to cause less confusion. Now instead of a “Small Stream Flood Advisory” for example, a simple and more direct “Flood Advisory” would be issued for the affected area.

The StormTracker 59 coverage area is split between two NWS Offices, it’s important to know which office covers your county.

As a note, NWS Charleston which covers Wyoming, McDowell, Raleigh, Fayette, Nicholas, and Pocahontas does not issue flood advisories:

“…NWS Charleston does not issue Flood Advisories. Instead, nuisance or low-lying flooding is handled in Special Weather Statements.” (NWS Charleston).

NWS Blacksburg, which covers Tazewell, Bland, Mercer, Giles, Summers, Monroe, and Greenbrier counties will continue to issue Flood Advisories now following the simplified criteria.

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