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Weather Words to Change, Easier to Understand

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — If you’ve ever hit a mental whiteout thinking about how a winter storm watch differs from a winter weather advisory, take heart. This winter, the National Weather Service is trying out simple, descriptive language to possibly replace its 14 watches, advisories and warnings for wintry conditions ranging from ice storms to blizzards and lake-effect snow.

For example, a Weather Service statement issued in place of a winter storm watch would read: “The National Weather Service is forecasting the potential for a significant winter storm.” Weather Service forecaster Eli Jacks says the goal is language that is self-evident and that anybody can immediately understand. The experiment began in December and runs through March at 26 Weather Service offices covering Alaska, Oregon, the northern Great Plains, Michigan, New England, Appalachia and Oklahoma.

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