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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Weather Service To Offer More Local Forecasts

Turn on the TV and all the stations are promising "More local weather!" or "Weather in your neighborhood!"

Now the federal government's getting on the bandwagon.

The National Weather Service will introduce this fall storm-based warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flash floods, and marine hazards that are more geographically specific for these short-duration weather events. Currently, such warnings are issued county wide.

The new warnings will take effect October 1.

"Weather doesn't follow geopolitical boundaries," says retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David Johnson, director of the National Weather Service. "Storm-based warnings provide the public with more specific information about the location of severe weather and the direction it is expected to move. Seconds count during tornadoes and flash floods. We want to provide the public with the most accurate description of what's happening in their neighborhood. We also want to avoid warning non-threatened portions of the county."

When issuing a warning, the National Weather Service will specify areas within a county and refer to commonly known landmarks such as highways or rivers.

"This is a fundamental change in our warning procedures and a major enhancement in our service capability," says Johnson. "Storm-based warningswill drastically improve graphical displays and empower the private sector to easily distribute the information through Web-enabled PDAs, cell phone alerts, pagers, and other technologies. Communicating severe weather threats in this way is imperative in today's digital world."

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