The Ongoing Effort to Better Relay Weather Hazards

Mar 24, 2017

Meteorologists are always trying out new and better strategies to get information to the public. And now the National Weather Service in Blacksburg is testing a new tool that could do just that. 

Currently, meteorologists with the National Weather Service use an online tool called the Hazardous Weather Outlook, to get the word out about potential hazards on the horizon; things like tornadoes or flooding.

James Morrow, with the NWS in Blacksburg, says the system has its flaws.

An example of the current, text-based Hazardous Weather Outlook.
Credit National Weather Service Blacksburg

“Only being a text base, it’s sometimes difficult to touch on all the hazards that may be in place across all the categories of weather hazards that we end up getting here in the New River Valley and also across much of Virginia.”

Enter the new system, a facelift to the existing product being tested by the Blacksburg office. It's meant to make the product easier to understand by replacing text with maps and colored tables.

And, an example of the eHWO, a graphical update to the current product.
Credit National Weather Service Blacksburg

“We’re actually able to graphically represent some of the hazards that are most common here, including fire weather, flooding, severe weather; you name it, any hazards that we often see here.”

The Blacksburg office is seeking feedback from the public. It it's well-received, the tool could be rolled out to other NWS offices around the country.

You can try out the new product and leave feedback here.