Wisconsin Weather

Apologies for Too Many NWS Alert Emails

By Justin Poublon
March 15, 2019 - 9:36 AM CST | 163  1   2

We received a message this morning to remove a member because we were sending way too many emails (which never happens). In my inbox this morning I counted 14 Flood Advisory, Flood Warning, Flood Watch, or Dense Fog emails. What the f are they doing?

I disabled all NWS alert emails until we can fix the problem.

If you haven't checked the NWS alert email notifications box for your locations on your account page; you are fine. But if you had NWS alerts checked here is what happened...

on the account page
on the account page

Three Problems

1. National Weather Service warning process is reactionary. They issued four massive brand new Flood Advisories last night for mostly the same area. It might be acceptable for everyone else but it's not up to my standards. I'm tired of it.

2. Poor logic in our system related to the impossibility to test things in every situation. The first stage of the email notification process is to send alerts for only New, Upgraded, Extended (time), Expanded (area) warnings watches and advisories by county. When we send the email notification; we used to include information about pre-existing warnings in the message. The NWS makes adjustments to warnings every few hours and our system is supposed to ignore it. The logic was not good enough and resulted in some adjustments being sent inadvertently. I knew this was happening I just couldn't put my finger on it until now.

3. We don't have a limit on the number of alerts that can be sent. If we put that limit at three, the fourth alert could be a tornado warning. We need intelligent limiting logic.

Four Solutions

1. Only send high priority alerts and shove the low priority spam.

2. Fix the logic. Our emails will no longer show other currently active alerts because chances are you already know about them.

3. Intelligent limiting logic. I've added a cooldown period. We won't send low priority messages more than once in a 24 hour period. High priority messages such as T-storm and Tornado Warnings get a shorter cool down period (6-12hr).

4. Do not send a Flood Warning more than once in a five day period or so. This is the greatest source of spam.

CONCLUSION about NWS Alerts

I realize you are getting hammered with NWS alerts from other sources. It quickly becomes nauseating. You probably felt this way about our alerts but were too nice to say something. Everyone should have access to NWS alerts and we will continue to offer this service, it's just not necessary on the level we've been doing it. We can build something different and better. We need to reduce the number of emails immensely so we can create space for a better experience, more effective communication, and preparation time.

We're sorry for any inconvenience. It's extremely frustrating to me when stuff like this happens. I recognize the experience is poor and will do everything I can to make it better. Will have this system back up within a few days.

~ help spread the word~
I believe you do a wonderful job at keeping us informed of inclimate weather for our area. I personally would rather be forewarned more often about such weather conditions than not. I look forward to your responses so I  can prepare beforehand rather than after the fact. Thank you for your services at keeping us safe and informed.
Thank you Joe! I agree and will take your thoughts into consideration! I believe forecasting has been our niche lately. Getting ahead of the storm from a preparedness perspective. I know we can do things better on the email side of things and we will keep making it better and better!
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