National Weather Service changes winter weather alerts

CLEVELAND-- The National Weather Service is changing the way it does its winter weather advisories and watches.

The definitions for the hazards were simplified, beginning last month. Terms like "lake effect snow advisory," "freezing rain advisory" and "blizzard watch" no longer exist.

"Based on initial feedback from core partners and the public, and with support from social and behavioral scientists, the NWS is implementing changes to more effectively communicate our hazard messages," the National Weather Service said on its website.

Here are the new, streamlined alerts and their definitions:

Winter weather advisory
-Snow, blowing snow, ice or sleet is expected, but heavy conditions should not be hazardous enough to meet warning criteria
-4 to 6 inches of snowfall or .5 inch of ice in 12 hours expected
-Issued 24 hours or more before weather event
-Replaces lake effect snow advisory and freezing rain advisory

Winter storm watch
-Potential for significant winter weather, including heavy snow, sleet, ice or blowing snow
-6 inches of snow in 12 hours or 8 inches of snow in 24 hours expected
-Issued 30 to 48 hours before synoptic, or large-scale, event
-Issued 24 to 36 hours before lake effect event
-Replaces lake effect snow watch and blizzard watch

Winter storm warning
-Issued 24 hours before a winter weather event as it becomes imminent
-Comes after winter storm advisory or winter storm watch
-Confidence in forecast is very high

Lake effect snow warnings will still be issued on a county basis.