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Small Craft Advisory or Warning?

boatus-Gov Aff Small Craft Advisory Goodbye photo credit Albert Barkus 4_15_20

The National Weather Service is asking for boater feedback on its proposal to rename Small Craft Advisory as Small Craft Warning.

The move could simplify and potentially reduce misunderstanding of urgent weather messagesthat boaters use to make critical safety decisions, according to the BoatUS. The company is urging boaters to participate in a survey about the name change. The survey closes May 24.

“Every day they go boating, boat owners check the weather and then make the decision to either head out or not,” BoatUS government affairs manager David Kennedy said in a statement. “We think the name change will help clarify what this means, leading to a better understanding of the severity of a marine weather forecast, and help give recreational boaters the information they need to make smart choices about boating safely.”

The National Weather Service uses the terms Watch, Warning and Advisory when issuing alertsabout forecasted hazards, but it has recognized this can be confusing.

The proposal to rename Small Craft Advisory as Small Craft Warning is part of a larger effort to reduce messages to Watch and Warning. NOAA says the name change would better align with other marine warnings — Gale, Storm and Hurricane Force Wind — leading to greater understanding by boaters.

Changing from an advisory to a warning would not change the term’s definition or meaning. While there is no precise definition of a small craft, a Small Craft Advisory is issued when sustained winds or frequent gusts reach 20 to 33 knots and/or seas or waves are 4 feet and greater and/or waves or seas are potentially hazardous. The requirements vary slightly by region, and local conditions may also dictate issuing a Small Craft Advisory.

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