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Winter Weather Glossary

1) WINTER STORM OUTLOOK
This is a statement issued when there is a chance of a major winter storm
from 2 to 4 days in the future. The purpose of the outlook is to assist people with their long rangeplans. However, since the outlook is issued so far in advance, the accuracy of the prediction may be limited.

2) WINTER STORM WATCH
This means that hazardous winter weather due to various elements such as heavy snow, sleet, or ice accumulation from freezing rain are a possibility, NOT a certainty. In our region, heavy snow means an average of 7 inches or more of accumulation in 12 hours or less (or 9 inches in 24 hours). A "WATCH" is a long range prediction and is typically issued 24 to 72 hours before the hazardous winter weather is expected to begin. If the storm becomes imminent, the watch will be upgraded to a "WARNING".

3) WINTER STORM WARNING for heavy snow
An average of seven inches or more of snow is expected to fall within a 12 hour period (or 9 inches in 24 hours).

4) WINTER STORM WARNING for severe icing
Heavy accumulation of ice due to freezing rain will down trees and power lines.
Electricity, or telephone communications, may be out for a long period of time. Roads may become impassable for most vehicles.

5) WINTER STORM WARNING
This is issued when a dangerous combination of heavy snow, mixed with sleet and/or freezing rain, is expected to occur. In addition, winter storm warnings are issued for a combination of heavy snow, dangerously cold wind chills and/or considerable blowing & drifting snow.

6) BLIZZARD WATCH
This means that hazardous winter weather due to a combination of snow and wind are a possibility, NOT a certainty. A "WATCH" is a long range prediction and is typically issued 24 to 72 hours before the hazardous winter weather is expected to begin. If the storm becomes imminent, the watch will be upgraded to a "WARNING."

7) BLIZZARD WARNING
This is issued for a combination of strong winds averaging or frequently gusting to, or above, 35 miles an hour and very low visibility due to blowing or falling snow. These are the most dangerous winter storms and can be especially severe when combined with temperatures below 10 degrees.

8) HIGH WIND WARNING
This means the expected winds will average 40 miles an hour or more for at least
1 hour or wind gusts will be greater than 58 miles an hour. Trees and power lines can be blown down. A High Wind Warning may be preceded by a HIGH WIND WATCH if the strong winds are only a possibility and at least 12 hours away.

9) WIND CHILL WARNING
This means life threatening cold with wind chill temperatures computed to be -25
degrees or less for at least 3 hours. Exposure to this combination of strong winds and low temperatures without protective clothing will quickly lead to frostbite, hypothermia & even death.

10) WIND CHILL ADVISORY
This is issued for cold temperatures and winds, with wind chill temperatures computed to be -15 degrees or less for at least 3 hours. Exposure to this combination of strong winds & low temperatures without protective clothing can lead to frostbite, hypothermia, or even death.

11) WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for snow
An average of four to seven inches of snow will fall within a 12 hour period.

12) WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for freezing rain/freezing drizzle
Small accumulations of ice due to freezing rain and freezing drizzle will cause roads to become slippery creating significant inconveniences. All it takes is a small amount of ice to make roads hazardous.

13) WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY
This is issued for a combination of snow, sleet and/or freezing rain. Winter weather advisories are also issued for a hazardous combination of falling snow and/or blowing and drifting snow.

14) WIND ADVISORY
This is issued for average wind speeds between 31 and 39 miles an hour, or for wind gusts between 46 and 57 miles an hour.

THERE ARE OTHER WINTER WEATHER HAZARDS UNIQUE TO SPECIFIC PORTIONS OF OUR REGION:

15) LAKE EFFECT SNOW WARNING
This is issued when snow squalls/snow showers originating from the Great Lakes are expected to accumulate an average of 7 inches or more in a 12 hour period. This is similar to a Winter Storm Warning for Heavy Snow, except Great Lakes induced squalls/showers occur in narrow bands and over limited areas. Lake effect snow squalls/showers can occur quite suddenly and cause blizzard like conditions. A LAKE EFFECT SNOW WATCH may precede a lake effect snow warning when the possibility of heavy lake effect snow exists
and is more than 12 hours away.

16) LAKE EFFECT SNOW ADVISORY
Lake Effect Snow Advisory is issued for Great Lakes’ induced snowfall
averaging 4 to 7 inches in a 12 hour period. Blowing and drifting snow is also common in relatively limited areas and in narrow bands.

17) SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
A Special Weather Statement (SPS) is issued for short-fused hazardous winter weather situations. These could include times when snow is falling at intense rates (greater than 1 inch per hour), such as during lake effect snow storms.

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