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Explaining Winter Weather Alerts

2/13/2019 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Explaining Winter Weather Alerts National Weather Service Logo

The weather this winter has been nothing short of wild. Wisconsinites have dealt with snow storms, rain and plunging and rising temperatures.

Since winter conditions can be dangerous, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the forecasts and make any preparations you can to stay safe.

But, in order to know how to prepare, you need to know what the forecasts are telling you. That’s where things like watches and warnings come into play.

We learned just what each watch and warning means from the National Weather Service (NWS) and we’d like to share that info with you!

According to the NWS there are Winter Storm Watches and Warnings, Winter Weather Advisories, Blizzard Warnings and Ice Warnings. Here’s what they mean:

  • Winter Storm Watch – the NWS says, “A Winter Storm Watch is issued when there is the potential for significant and hazardous winter weather within 48 hours. It does not mean that significant and hazardous winter weather will occur...it only means it is possible.” (That hazardous winter weather can include snow, ice, sleet, blowing snow or a combination of these hazards.)
  • Winter Storm Warning – according to the NWS, “A Winter Storm Warning is issued when a significant combination of hazardous winter weather is occurring or imminent.”
  • Winter Weather Advisory – the NWS explains this as, “A Winter Weather Advisory will be issued for any amount of freezing rain, or when 2 to 4 inches of snow (alone or in combination with sleet and freezing rain), is expected to cause a significant inconvenience, but not serious enough to warrant a warning.”
  • Blizzard Warning – the NWS says, “A Blizzard Warning means that the following conditions are occurring or expected within the next 12 to 18 hours: snow and/or blowing snow reducing visibility to 1/4 mile or less for 3 hours or longer and sustained winds of 35 mph or greater or frequent gusts to 35 mph or greater.”
  • Ice Warning – According to the NWS, this is when ¼ inch accumulation or more of ice is expected.

All of these alerts can signal dangerous conditions. So, if you see them in the forecast, take precautions! Winter isn’t over yet. Be safe.

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