Weather Matters with Matthews (12/5/21): Winter Weather Products

Weather Wisdom

Hello and welcome to another episode of Weather Matters with Matthews. Since it is now that time of the year, I will talk about the different winter storm products issued by the National Weather Service.
A winter storm warning is issued when there is confidence that snow, sleet, or freezing rain will occur and cause significant impacts. Other examples of winter warnings include:

  • A blizzard warning: issued when there are gusts greater than or equal to 35 MPH, significant snowfall, and visibilities reduced to 1/4 mile for three hours or more.
  • An ice storm warning: issued when ice accumulates 1/4 inch or more on the ground.
  • A wind chill warning: issued when a combination of cold air and strong winds create dangerously low wind chill values.
  • Lake effect snow warnings: issued when lake induced snow squalls or heavy showers are expected to produce significant snowfall accumulation.

A winter storm watch states that snow, sleet, or freezing rain is possible. This is only when conditions are favorable for a significant winter storm. It does not mean that the storm is definitely going to happen. A wind chill watch is another example of a winter weather watch.
A winter weather advisory states that winter weather is expected, but conditions should not be dangerous enough to meet warning criteria. Examples of winter weather related advisories include wind chill and lake effect snow advisories. If either one is issued, the event is expected, but conditions at the moment of the advisory issued are not hazardous enough to meet the warning criteria.

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