OUTLOOK—Hazardous Weather Outlooks are issued everyday, and serve as a “heads-up” that a significant weather event may be possible in the next 2 to 7 days.
ADVISORY—An advisory is issued when winter weather events could cause a significant inconvenience, but could also lead to life threatening conditions if not cautious.
WATCH—A watch is issued when winter weather events have the potential to threaten life and property, but the exact timing and location of the storm is uncertain. Watches are normally issued between 12 to 48 hours in advance.
WARNING—A warning is issued when winter weather events are occurring or are imminent and pose a threat to life and property. Warnings are normally issued between 2 and 24 hours in advance.
Freezing Rain—Small accumulation of ice, generally less than 1/4 of an inch.
Sleet—Accumulation of ice pellets less than 1/2 of an inch.
Snow—Snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches in 12 hours.
Snow & Blowing Snow—Snowfall with wind speeds of 25 to 34 miles per hour and visibilities less than 1/4 of a mile for at least 3 hours.
Wind Chill—Wind Chill values of –20°F to –29°F with wind speeds of at least 10 miles per hour.
Winter Weather—A combination of 2 or more of the following:
Blizzard—Snow and blowing snow with wind speeds of 35 miles per hour and greater and visibilities less than 1/4 of a mile for at least 3 hours.
Heavy Snow—Snow accumulation of 6 inches or more in 12 hours or 8 inches or more in 24 hours.
Ice Storm—Widespread ice accumulation of 1/4 of an inch or more.
Sleet—Accumulation of ice pellets 1/2 of an inch and greater.
Winter Storm—A combination of two or more of the following:
Why Talk About Winter Weather?
Every year there are people who die due to exposure to the cold. When you add in the number of automobile accidents and deaths, accidental fires due to dangerous use of heaters, and other winter weather related fatalities, one can see the threat winter weather can pose if not cautious. Very young people and the elderly are the most vulnerable to exposure to the cold and its dangers. Recognizing the threats and knowing what to do when they occur could prevent the loss of extremities or save a life.
Avoid activities such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car, or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor could cause a heart attack, and sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.
Based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by combined effects of wind and cold.
The higher the wind, the greater the rate at which heat is carried away, driving down body temperature.
Animals are also affected by wind chill, but cars, plants, and other objects are not.