Winter Weather Awareness
Winter Weather Warnings and Advisories  

A watch is issued whenever severe winter conditions are expected but not imminent. A watch alerts the public to the possibility of severe winter conditions. Watches are typically issued anywhere from 12 to 48 hours in advance of a winter storm. However, in some circumstances, watches may be issued longer than 48 hours in advance.

A warning is issued whenever severe winter weather conditions are expected, that could cause death, injury or significant property damage. Various warning types include:

Winter Storm Warning

A Winter Storm Warning is issued for winter weather precipitation events that could cause death, injury or significant property damage.  A winter storm warning is issued for any individual or combination of more than one of the following hazards:

• A mix of freezing and/or frozen precipitation which causes life-threatening conditions (e.g., several inches of snow with freezing rain).

• Heavy snow criteria (6 inches or more in 12 hours, 8 inches or more in 24 hours) and wind that also results in blowing snow

• Sleet accumulation greater than or equal to 1/2 inch.

• Any other combination of winter weather warning criteria.

Ice Storm Warning •Damaging accumulations of ice 1/4 inch or greater.
Blizzard Warning •Sustained wind gusts to 35 mph or higher, and

•Considerable snow and/or blowing snow reducing visibility to a 1/4 mile or less.

Both of these must occur for a period of 3 hours or longer.
Wind Chill Warning

•Wind chill indices are expected to reach -25 degrees or colder for one hour.


Advisories are used for winter weather precipitation events that cause significant inconveniences, but are not considered life-threatening -if- caution is exercised. Winter weather conditions in an advisory can lead to many travel problems. Various advisory types include:

Winter Weather Advisory

•Used for winter weather precipitation that is not expected to reach warning criteria, but that will lead to significant inconveniences.  A winter weather advisory will be issued when:

•New snow accumulation is sufficient to cause travel problems, but is less than 6 inches in 12 hours or 8 inches in 24 hours. In all cases forecaster discretion will be used to issue an advisory.

•Blowing snow which intermittently reduces visibility less than 1/2 mile, or produces drifting snow which closes roadways.

•A combination of snow and blowing snow.

•Sleet accumulations less than 1/2 inch.


Freezing Rain Advisory •Freezing rain or freezing drizzle with accumulations less than 1/4 inch.
Wind Chill Advisory •Wind chill indices are expected to range between -15 to -24 degrees for one hour. is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.