Plan & Prepare
Winter Weather Terms
- When a Watch is issued:
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio and TV stations, or The Weather Channel for updates.
- Be alert to changing weather conditions.
- Avoid unnecessary travel.
- Winter Storm Watch: Indicates the potential for severe life-threatening winter weather conditions including heavy snow, heavy ice or near-blizzard conditions.
- Blizzard Watch: Indicates the potential for blizzard conditions.
- Wind Chill Watch: Indicates the potential of wind chills of -25F or less, which can cause rapid frostbite and increase the risk of hypothermia.
- When a Warning is issued:
- Stay indoors during the storm.
- If you must go outside wear several layers of lightweight clothing, including gloves, a hat and a scarf to cover your mouth and protect your lungs.
- Know the hazards of wind chill.
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks.
- After the storm if you shovel snow, be sure to take frequent breaks. Cold weather puts an additional strain on the heart.
- Winter Storm Warning: A combination of snow, ice and/or other winter conditions is expected to cause life-threatening public impact.
- Heavy Snow Warning: Seven inches of more or snow is expected in 12 hours or less, or 9 inches or more is expected in 24 hours or less.
- Ice Storm Warning: A half-inch or more of ice accumulation is expected, which can damage power lines and trees.
- Blizzard Warning: Blizzard Conditions are imminent or expected in the next 12 to 24 hours. A Blizzard is a severe snow event including 1/4 mile or less visibility for three hours or more, falling or blowing snow, and winds over 35 mph.
- Wind Chill Warning: Wind chill is expected to be -25F or less. Frostbite can occur in less than 10 minutes.
- Winter Weather Advisory: Indicates a hazardous combination of snow and ice that is not expected to reach warning criteria. Winter weather can cause significant inconvenience, or can be life-threatening if proper precautions are not taken.
- Snow Advisory: Four to six inches of snow are expected in 12 hours or less.
- Freezing Rain Advisory: An accumulation of freezing rain may make roads slippery.
- Snow and Blowing Snow Advisory: Sustained wind or frequent gusts of 25 to 34 mph accompanied by falling and blowing snow, occasionally reducing visibility to 1/4 mile or less for three hours or more.
- Blowing Snow Advisory: Widespread or localized blowing snow reducing visibility to 1/4 mile or less with winds less than 35 mph.
- Wind Chill Advisory: Indicates wind chills of -15F to .24F. Frostbite can occur in less than 30 minutes.