National Weather Service simplifies flood alerts

Weather

SYRACUSE, Ind. (WANE) – The next time flooding threatens northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio, it will be easier for all of us to understand.

The National Weather Service has consolidated its flood alerts as part of its ongoing Hazard Simplification Project. This project is designed to “simplify the communication of information and improve the understanding and utility of forecasts and warnings.” This started several years ago with simplifying winter weather alerts and a recategorization of Severe Thunderstorms Warnings this past summer.

Changes have been made to Flood Advisories and Flood Watches. A breakdown of the changes can be found below. A number of different advisories will now just be called a ‘Flood Advisory’ and both a Flood Watch and Flash Flood Watch will now be known as a ‘Flood Watch.’ No changes to Flood Warnings were made.

There is one exception. The Flash Flood Watch is not completely going away. Morris says “it will actually be repurposed and focused on far more localized issues, such as a dam break, a levee break, or a debris flow on a burn scar.”

The weather service has also reformatted the wording of all flood alerts into a WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, IMPACTS, and ADDITIONAL DETAILS bulleted system. This makes the organization of each alert easier to follow.

Hydrologist Chris Morris with the National Weather Service in Northern Indiana says all of the old alerts tended to produce the same response from the public and emergency managers. The consolidations help clear up confusion as to the difference between different flood alerts. Morris hopes the simplification helps generate a unified response to a flooding situation.

Morris adds a number of factors are considered when issuing flood alerts. The precipitation rate, the saturation of the ground, and whether or not the ground is frozen.

Remember, it does not take much water to cause big problems. Never cross flooded roadways; always turn around, don’t drown. Find another route to make it to your destination safely when encountering floodwaters.

The next change to weather service alerts is not anticipated until at least 2024. This is when the weather service will evaluate the usage of the term ‘advisory,’ based upon feedback from the public and partners they work with.

For more information on the changes, check out this PDF or visit the National Weather Service Northern Indiana’s website.

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