(WKBN) – In our region, flash flooding is the number one killer when it comes to severe weather. When the National Weather Service alerts flooding, these are the types of flood alerts you would typically see: flash flood watch, aerial flood watch, aerial flood advisory, small stream flood advisory and hydrologic advisory. But on Tuesday, that will all change.
“We’re trying to keep things simple. We have a lot of products out there,” said Fred McMullen, with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.
Starting Nov. 9, the National Weather Service is changing things up when it comes to warning people of the potential for or the happening of flooding.
It’s a welcome change, especially for WKBN’s Storm Team 27.
“Flash flood warnings and advisories and all the different terms used in it is extremely confusing to a lot of the viewers. So I am really happy to see this simplification of the warnings itself,” said Storm Team 27 Chief Meteorologist Paul Wetzl.
Now, when a flood event happens and an alert pops up on your TV screen or your Storm Team 27 app, it will say one of two things: flood watch or flood advisory.
“We have currently a flash flood watch and a flood watch. Now, they’re gonna be combined into one and just called a flood watch,” McMullen said.
“You can plainly see they’ve grouped all these together into one,” Wetzl said.
While it will be easier to see on your screen, you still need to read the flood products. That’s where you’ll find three important details: what the flood alert is for, where the flood alert is for and when it is for.
“When you look at the body of the statement, it’ll say what it is for. So, is it a flash flood watch for heavy rain? Is it a flash flood watch for an ice jam? Is it a flood watch for, you know, rainfall?” McMullen said.
Flood warnings will still be issued though.
So what’s the difference between a watch, an advisory and a warning?
“An advisory is… it’s in the process, things are coming together for it. Where a watch is conditions could become possible for this,” Wetzl said.
And a warning means it’s imminent and happening now.
“The bottom line is safety and in order to get safety out, you have to understand what’s going on,” Wetzl said.
The National Weather Service has put together a two-page explainer about what the new alerts will detail when they are sent out.