A Change of Seasons
By: Tony Sturey, Warning Coordination Meteorologist
As we rapidly approach another cold weather season in Maine it is important
that we all take a few moments to review important weather safety rules, including
those at home, work and at school. For those who have endured many a winter
season across our region, this may seem like old hat. However, reacquainting
ourselves with the dangers and obstacles of winter weather could perhaps save
a life. Additionally, we may find family and friends who are new to northern
Before we catalogue these definitions, it has been noted by this author that
the greatest societal impact during a winter season may not necessarily be generated
by the strongest storm! Sometimes it is those quick or sudden accumulations
of snow and ice, or perhaps black ice or fog freezing on road surfaces, which
cause the most headaches. Of course the large ice and snow storms which periodically
Lastly I would like to stress the importance of snow and ice reports from our
network of spotters, co-operative observers and amateur radio operators. Through
your efforts in reporting timely snow and ice accumulations, we are able to
issue the best products to all of our customers in northern and downeast
And now for the definitions:
Winter Storm Outlook- Issued when a major storm could impact the area beyond 48 hours. Confidence level is usually 30 percent or greater.
Winter Storm Watch This product alerts the public to the potential for heavy snow, sleet, freezing rain or blizzard conditions occurring within 12 to 48 hours. Confidence level is usually 50 percent or greater that the watch will be upgraded to a warning.
Winter Storm Warnings Average snow accumulation of 7 inches or more in 12 hours, or 10 inches or more in 24 hours, or one half inch or more of freezing rain, or one or more inches of sleet. The confidence level for warnings is usually 80 percent or greater.
Blizzard Warning Sustained winds or frequent gusts greater than or equal to 35 mph, and falling or blowing snow with visibility less than one fourth mile or greater for at least 3 hours.
Wind Chill Warning Widespread wind chills of 35 degree below zero or lower, with winds greater than or equal to 10 mph. This product may be preceded by a Wind Chill Watch.
Wind Chill Advisory Widespread wind chills of 20 to 34 degrees below zero with winds greater than or equal to 10 mph.
Winter Weather Advisory Average snow accumulation of 4 inches but less than 7 inches in 12 hours, or less than one inch of sleet or less than one half inch of freezing rain.
Blowing Snow Advisory Wind driven snow resulting in visibilities occasionally one fourth of a mile or lower.
Coastal Flood Watch Coastal flooding not associated with a tropical system possible within 12 to 36 hours.
Coastal Flood Warning Coastal flooding not associated with a tropical system expected within 12 hours.
High Wind Warning Sustained winds at least 40 mph for 1 hour or more, or gusts to 58 mph or more for any duration. This product may be preceded by a High Wind Watch.
Wind Advisory Sustained winds of 31 to 39 mph for 1 hour or more, or gusts from 46 to 57 mph for any duration.
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