For many years, there has been public confusion of the difference between a weather "Watch" and a weather "Warning" especially various winter weather statements and terms issued by the National Weather Service. Here are some examples and discussion of the confusion the Wa-Wa statements (as we meteorologists refer to the current wording) cause.
After much hard work ( including dealing with much legacy) a team within the National Weather Service is conducting an experiment this winter to see how significant changes in wording for preparation before storms, may help eliminate the confusion. The experiment products delete the word "WATCH" from preparation statements and will only use "WARNING" meaning it is time for people affected by any upcoming storm to take action. Here is an example of the current and proposed wording.
Here are the local forecast offices that will be participating in this experimental program this winter.
The local forecast office here in Washington will not be participating because it is already involved in several projects involving better, more effective communication of winter weather and snowfall forecasts. But the National Weather Service wants your input. Frankly for many years I have been pushing for such a change. Some studies have show that as many as 60% of people are confused between what is a "Watch" and what is a "Warning".
The National Weather Service is your service. Effective communication is critical in helping you make the best weather related decision. Government officials, various government organizations, emergency managers all have an interest, and frankly I think some legacy in maintaining the current system and language. But you the public are our most important customer. Let your National Weather Service know what you think and learn more here.
Oh and make sure to take part in our poll on the subject. I'll share it with the program leader of this very worthwhile effort and initiative.