Storm Track Severe Weather Guide | www.WDIO.com

Storm Track Winter Weather Guide

Winter can be tough in the Northland, just as tough as its residents. It is important to be prepared for all kinds of weather, from freezing rain to snow, and from temperatures near freezing to well below zero. Knowing the correct terminology the WDIO Storm Track meteorologists use the winter can help keep you and your family safe. It is important to always keep a close eye on the forecast when heading out to enjoy your day.

Winter Weather Terminology

Winter Storm Watch: is issued when winter storm conditions are possible within the next 3 days. The timing, intensity, or occurrence of the winter storm may still be uncertain. 

  • Action: Prepare for quickly changing weather conditions. Fill your vehicle with gas, and do any errands like grocery shopping so you have what you will need in case you are snowed in. Check weather conditions frequently.

Winter Storm Warning: Indicates heavy snow (greater than 6”), heavy sleet (1/2” +), or a combination of winter weather hazards are highly likely or occurring. Stay indoors and adjust travel plans.

  • Action:  Pay attention to the WDIO Storm Track weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms. Listen for emergency information and alerts.  Be prepared for winter weather at home, at work and in your car.
  • Make snow removal plans, have shovels and/or gas for your snowblower. 
  • Create an emergency supply kit for your car.

Blizzard Watch: Conditions are favorable for a blizzard event in the next 24 to 72 hours. Sustained wind or frequent gusts greater than or equal to 35 mph will accompany falling and/or blowing snow to frequently reduce visibility to less than ¼ mile for three or more hours.

  • Action: Pay attention to changing weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms. Listen for emergency information and alerts.  Be prepared for winter weather at home, at work and in your car.
  • Create an emergency supply kit for your car.
  • Gather supplies in case you need to stay home.

Blizzard Warning: Strong winds of 35 mph or greater will combine with snowfall to produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and life threatening conditions, especially for people attempting to travel.

  • Action: Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking and weather stripping. Learn how to keep pipes from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights.
  • Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication.
  • Remember the needs of your pets.

Snow Squall Warning:  a short fused warning product (normally 30-60 minutes) used to warn of an intense, short-lived burst of heavy snowfall. This will be issued for a combination of quick reduction in visibilities (less than 1/4 mile), sudden whiteout conditions, and slick/hazardous roads.

  • Action: If you come across a snow squall with near white-out conditions on an interstate or other high-speed highway, proceed with caution and be prepared to make an emergency stop if you come across stalled traffic. 

Lake Effect Snow: is produced during cooler atmospheric conditions when a cold air mass moves across long expanses of warmer lake water. The lower layer of air, heated by the lake water, picks up water vapor from the lake and rises up through the colder air above to be deposited as snow on opposite shoreline downwind of warm water.

Lake Effect Snow Watch: Conditions are favorable for a lake effect snow event to meet or exceed local lake effect snow warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours. Widespread or localized lake induced snow squalls or heavy snow showers which produce snowfall accumulation to seven or more inches in 12 hours or less.  

Lake Effect Warning:  A lake effect snow event is expected to meet or exceed local lake effect snow warning criteria in the next 12 to 36 hours. Widespread or localized lake induced snow squalls or heavy snow showers which produce snowfall accumulation to seven or more inches in 12 hours or less.

Wind Chill Advisory: Dangerous wind chills of 15 to 24 below zero.

Wind Chill Warning: Life-threatening wind chills of 25 to 30 below zero or colder.

  • Action: If you are in an area with a wind chill warning, avoid going outside during the coldest parts of the day. If you do go outside, dress in layers, cover exposed skin, and make sure at least one other person knows your whereabouts. Update them when you arrive safely at your destination.  
  • Bring pets indoors.
  • Pay attention to WDIO weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms. Listen for emergency information and alerts.  

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