Breaking Down Winter Weather Watches & Warnings

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We see them throughout the Fall, Winter, and even the Spring. Watches, warnings, and advisories are meant to prepare you. Here’s a break down of the more common winter products:

The Winter Storm Watch – This is issued 24 or more hours from an event. This is when confidence is high that a significant winter storm could impact the region with heavy snow or heavy sleet, an ice storm, blowing snow or a combination of all of these. Blizzard-like conditions could be possible. When you see a Winter Storm Watch, go ahead and make alternate travel plans just in case. You want to be prepared.

The Winter Weather Advisory – This is typically issued 12 to 24 hours in advance and it means light amounts of snow or blowing snow, ice, sleet or a combination is expected. Travel isn’t usually impossible. You just have to exercise extreme caution when doing so.

A Winter Storm Warning – this is also typically issued 12-24 hours out. Consider it a call to action. Significant weather is expected soon whether it’s heavy snow, sleet, freezing rain. Travel could be hazardous if not impossible.

Blizzard Warning – probably one of the warnings most misunderstood. This is issued when a blizzard is happening or imminent. Persistent wind and frequent gusts of 35+ mph reduce visibility down to a 1/4 of a mile or less for at least 3 hours or more. Blizzards quite often close roads. You don’t always need falling snow for a blizzard. Wind can whip up fresh snow on the ground and create near-zero visibility.

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