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High Country Observer


National Weather Service Riverton, WY
Volume 7 Issue 2, December 2003



  Included in this issue:

The Winter Season is Upon Us!!!

The COOP Corner

What Can We Expect this Winter???

The "New" Voice of the National Weather Service

Severe Weather, A Year in Review

The Winter Season is Upon Us!!!


By Chad Hahn

Intern Meteorologist


Are you ready for Winter 2003-2004? In an average winter season, more than two dozen winter storms occur within Wyoming. For the safety of yourself and family, it is important to understand specific terms that the National Weather Service uses to warn the public of impending hazards. Keep these weather terms in mind the next time winter weather threatens.

Winter Storm Watch

Severe winter weather may impact your area within 48 hours. You still have time to prepare!!!

Winter Storm Warning

Severe winter weather is occurring or is imminent. Your should already be prepared and should take protective actions immediately!!!


Issued when the following snow amounts are expected (often accompanied by blowing/drifting snow):

     * Lower elevations (below 7500 ft): 6 inches or more in 24 hours or an event

     * Mountain locations (above 7500 ft): 12 inches or more in 24 hours or an event


Travel can become difficult or impossible, especially for vehicles without four wheel drive.

Blizzard Warning

The most dangerous of all winter weather is occurring or imminent: If you are caught outdoors or on the road, you could lose your life! A blizzard is defined as a combination of winds 35 mph or greater with snow or blowing snow reducing visibility to less than 1/4 mile for three or more hours. In blizzards, white-out conditions, deep snow drifts, and frigid wind chills form a life-threatening partnership. You should seek refuge immediately!!!

Winter Weather Advisory

Weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists. If caution is exercised, however, these situations should not become life threatening. Examples of conditions for which advisories are issued include snow, blowing snow, freezing drizzle, and freezing rain.

Wind Chill Warning

Wind chill is the combined effect of cold temperatures and wind in chilling the body. A Warning is issued when wind chills of minus 40 degrees F or colder, with winds of at least 10 mph, are occurring or imminent. Frostbite can occur in seconds, and hypothermia within minutes!!!

High Wind Warning

Hazardous winds are occurring or will soon occur across a significant area.

Issued when wind speeds and/or wind gusts reach the following criteria across

     * Lower elevations (below 7500 ft): sustained winds of 40 mph or greater or gusts to 60 mph or more.

     * Mountain locations (above 7500 ft): sustained winds of 50 mph or greater or gusts to at least 75 mph.

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