The National Weather Service announced changes to winter weather alerts for the upcoming season this week. Beginning Oct. 2, a few of the alerts you would usually see during winter events will be covered by broader alerts that inherently include the hazards.

Some alerts relating to blizzard, lake effect snow and freezing rain will be grouped with “winter weather” or “winter storm” to consolidate the hazard into a single place. For example, even though a standalone “freezing rain advisory” won’t be issued, information about the freezing rain risk will be included in the text of the winter weather advisory.

Here are the specific changes starting Oct. 2:

  • Lake effect snow advisories and freezing rain advisories will be covered by the winter weather advisory
  • Lake effect snow watch and the blizzard watch will be covered by the winter storm watch
  • For some locations, the lake effect snow warning will be covered by the winter storm warning

As we’ve said in the past, the current advisory system is like a foreign language to anyone without a degree in meteorology. During one Nor’easter in December 2014, 14 different types of watches, warnings and advisories were in effect for what were essentially three different types of weather risk: snow, flood and wind.

The changes being implemented in the winter are a step toward reducing potential confusion, though it’s still just the tip of the iceberg. There are still more than 100 different types of weather advisories that can be issued throughout the year. More than a dozen of those are applicable to winter weather.

The National Weather Service says we can expect one more change in the spring: The flash flood watch will be covered by the flood watch.