Winter Weather Facts, Definitions, and Safety
- Winter Storm Watch - Severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, are possible within the next day or two. Prepare now!
- Winter Storm Warning - Severe winter conditions are about to begin in your area or will begin within the next 18 hours. Stay indoors!
For snow, expect greater than 7 inches in a 12 hour period or greater than 10 inches in a 24 hour period. For ice, expect .5 inch or more in a 24 hour period.
- Blizzard Warning - Snow and strong winds will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibity), deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill. Seek refuge immediately!
- Winter Weather Advisory - Winter weatehr conditions are expected to cause signifcant inconveniences and may be hazardous.
If caution is exercised, these situations should not become life-threatening. The greatest hazard is often to motorists
- Wind Chill Warning - Bitter cold combination of frigid temperatures and wind. Issued when this combination reaches - 35 degrees.
- Wind Chill Advisory - Bitter cold combination of frigid temperatures and wind. Issued when this combination reaches - 20 degrees.
- Snow Flurries - Light snow falling for short duration's. No accumulation or light dusting is all that is expected.
- Snow Showers - Snow falling at varying intensites for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible.
- Snow Squalls - Breif, intense snow showers accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation may be significant.
- Blowing Snow - Wind-driven snow that reduces visibility and causes significant drifting. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling and/or loose snow on the ground picked up by the wind.
- Blizzard - Winds over 35 mph with snow and blowing snow reducing visibility to near zero.
- Sleet - Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the groud. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects.
However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorists
- Freezing Rain - Rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars, and roads, forming a coating or glaze of ice.
Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard.
When caught outside in a winter storm:
- try to stay dry
- cover all exposed parts of the body
If you can't find shelter:
- prepare a lean-to, wind break, or snow cave for protection from the wind
- build a fire for heat and to attract attention
- place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
Do not eat snow: it will lower your body temperature. Melt it first.
When caught in a winter storm in a car or truck:
Stay in your car or truck. Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold. Run the motor about ten minutes each hour for heat:
- open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
- make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked
Make yourself visible to rescuers:
- turn on the dome light at night when running engine.
- tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door.
- raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
Exerciese from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
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