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Flood alerts to be consolidated by National Weather Service

Starting Nov. 4, the National Weather Service will be simplifying water-related watches, warnings, and advisories.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Understanding your flood threat is about to get easier. The National Weather Service is implementing changes to their water-related watches, warnings, and advisories beginning Nov. 4.

It's all part of a bigger project known as Hazards Simplification. A large chunk of this process has to do with consolidating, or reducing the number of products, as well as reformatting and simplifying them.

Flooding is the largest weather-related threat to the Charlotte area. But the multiple versions of flood advisories, watches and warnings can be difficult to understand. 

Oftentimes, the difference is minor, and that’s why the NWS has taken this initiative to make things easier to understand and focus on the impact to the public.

Credit: National Weather Service

One of the biggest changes is combining flood watches and flash flood watches. Trisha Palmer, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service Greenville-Spartanburg, said the alert will still describe the threat, but they'll also be looking to their media partners to help explain the impact to viewers.

“In the text, we’re going to be describing what is going on with that flood watch," Palmer said. "Is it going to be from a light steady rain that’s going on for hours and hours? Or is it going to be from a short-term, very heavy rain?”

One exception would be in the case of a "non-convective" event such as a dam or levee failure when a Flash Flood Watch could still be issued. This would be more related to the collapse rather than a rain-related event.

Credit: WCNC Charlotte

Another, more rare, exception for us in the Carolinas would be from burn scars during a significant fall fire season like back in 2016. This could lead to the possibility of flash flooding and debris flows caused by excessive rainfall on those burn scars or in debris flow and landslide-prone areas.

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All urban and small stream advisories, flood advisories, or hydrologic advisories will just become a flood advisory. Additionally, all water-related alerts will be reformatted to focus on what, where, when, and the potential threats.

These threat-based alerts would hone in on the what, where, when, impacts and any additional details. This will be easier to filter through and focus on keeping you and your families safe.

Contact Brittany Van Voorhees at bvanvoorhe@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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