‘Advisory’ advice: Got any?

Fog Advisories are for days like this...picture from click2houston

You’d be surprised at the social science research the National Weather Service does to determine the best way to warn you, the public, about dangerous weather. For example, which colors are the most meaningful: do people consider “purple” more dangerous than “red” or is “orange” better? Which parameters for severe weather are most appropriate: after Hurricane Ike the Saffir-Simpson Scale became just for wind, taking out surge because the categories just didn’t fit for both. What language best describes hail danger: marble-sized hail is no longer used because marbles come in different sizes! Everyone knows how big a quarter is!

Another dilemma is the advisory. You’ve seen plenty of them, like this one:

Example of a Dense Fog Advisory

And occasionally we see something like this:

Example of Winter Weather Advisory

The question is whether advisory is strong enough or do people just look at an advisory as a “heads up”? After all, dense fog can take lives when drivers aren’t aware of the danger. Dense fog can be a lot more dangerous than just a heads up.

So what to do?

The answer is to survey the public and the National Weather Service and all your favorite meteorologists are encouraging you to take a simple two question survey before the end of the month to give YOUR opinion on advisories:

NWS wants your input!
NWS survey is also in Spanish

The questions are specific to ‘snow advisories” but will be used for all advisories when changes are made (watch and warnings will remain the same). You’ll be asked just a couple of simple questions about the best way to describe a weather situation. For instance, which of the following gets your attention:

Option 1:Snow: Light accumulations today

Option 2:Caution: Light snow accumulations today

Option 3:Light snow accumulations today

Is Caution: Light snow accumulations today better than just Light Snow accumulations today? Do we need that word “Caution”? You’ll also have an opportunity to come up with your own suggestions (and you know me, I certainly chimed in). The survey honestly takes 2 minutes of your time and will be enormously helpful to all of us meteorologists tasked with warning the public. We want to do the best we can for you!

Here are the links:

English version

Spanish version

Please take a moment to help. And here is some more plain language: Enjoy the weekend! It’s here!


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About the Authors:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.