(WETM) – Winter will be here before you know it, and Pennsylvania is helping people in the Keystone State gear up their knowledge of winter weather before the first snow arrives.

In order to help the public stay informed this coming winter, the Bradford County Department of Public Safety has posted a list of different winter-weather terms used by the National Weather Service. The department has also included a list of types of precipitation and how each is different from the others.

  • Sleet: Rain that turns to ice pellets before hitting the ground.
  • Flurries: Light snow falling with little or no accumulation.
  • Freezing Rain: Rain that freezes when it hits the ground.
  • Wind Chills: Measure of how cold people actually feel due to wind and cold temperatures combined.
  • Overunning: Warm air flows above cold air that’s near the surface, sometimes creating precipitation.

With so many winter weather possibilities, Public Safety also provided a list of watches, warnings, and advisories from the NWS, explaining what each means:

Hazardous weather outlook: Usually issued 3-5 days before a winter storm watch when forecasters think winter storm conditions are possible.

Winter Storm Watch: Generally alerts the public to possible heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet. Usually issued 24-48 hours before the start of the storm. Watches can be canceled if the storm doesn’t materialize.

Warning: Issued when winter weather conditions that threaten life or property are imminent or have already started. There are several types of warnings:

  • Winter Storm Warning: Usually issued 12-24 hours before heavy snow, freezing rain, sleet or any combination is imminent or has already started.
  • Blizzard Warning: Issued for sustained wind or gusts of 35+ mph and when falling snow limits visibility to 1/4-mile or less. These conditions last for three more hours.
  • Ice Storm Warning: Issued when significant ice is expected to build up on trees, powerlines, and roads. These storms can disrupt traffic, bring down powerlines, and cause long power outages, the department said.
  • Lake Effect Snow Warning: Issued when heavy lake effect snow is coming or has already started.
  • Snow Squall Warning: Issued when a burst of heavy snow (with almost no visibility and icy roads) is already happening or is on the way. Bradford County said snow squalls are extremely dangerous because of how fast they can develop, sometimes cutting visibility down to nothing within minutes on an otherwise clear day.
  • Wind Chill Warning: Issued when wind chills are expected to be life-threatening within several minutes of exposure (usually under -25 degrees Fahrenheit).

Advisory: Issued for less serious weather. There are also multiple types of advisories that can affect driving, outdoor activities or public events:

  • Winter Weather Advisory: Issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, or sleet that will cause “significant inconveniences”. However, Public Safety said this weather usually doesn’t threaten life and property.
  • Wind Chill Advisory: Issued when wind chills are expected to be inconvenient to life if exposure is prolonged. Without taking precautions, exposure to these winds could be hazardous.

Bradford County Public Safety also encourages everyone in Pennsylvania to buy a NOAA weather radio that broadcasts 24/7.