Photo: Dan Duffy

NWS Proposes Renaming “Small Craft Advisory”

The National Weather Service (NWS) is considering a big change to the way it warns us about unsafe marine conditions, and they want to hear your opinion about it.

NWS proposes changing a Small Craft Advisory to a Small Craft Warning. Criteria would remain the same; On the Chesapeake they are prompted by “sustained winds or frequent gusts…between 20-25 knots and 33 knots and/or seas or waves 5 to 7 feet and greater, area dependent.”

It’s simply a name change, NWS explains, and they’re opening it for public comment from now through May 24.

The change is part of NWS’s plan to revamp the Watch, Warning and Advisory system.

 Currently, a watch means that conditions are favorable for hazardous weather soon. An advisory means that hazardous conditions will cause an inconvenience and could threaten safety without careful actions and planning. A warning is issued when dangerous weather conditions are imminent or occurring, and urgent action is needed to protect life and property.

In the new system, NWS would remove the terms “Advisory,” “Special Weather Statement” and “NOWcast” and streamline all of the information into a “single, plain language statement”– a single statement except, that is, for Small Craft Advisories. NWS says because of their critical nature, conditions associated with a Small Craft Advisory requires vessels of a certain size to take protective action. So they would be singled out as a “Warning.”

You can take the survey to provide NWS with feedback at by May 24, 2020.

-Meg Walburn Viviano