The National Weather Service (NWS) issues watches, warnings and advisories for all winter weather hazards. Here’s what they mean and what to do. Use the information below to make an informed decision on your risk and what actions to take.
- Winter Storm Watch: Be Prepared. A watch means that severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow or sleet or an ice storm, may affect your area, but where, when and how much is still uncertain. NWS issues a watch to provide 12 to 36 hours notice of possible severe winter weather. A watch is intended to provide enough lead time for you to prepare.
- Winter Storm Warning: Take Action! NWS issues a warning when its scientists forecast 4 or more inches of snow or sleet in the next 12 hours, 6 or more inches in 24 hours, or 1/4 inch or more of ice accumulation. Travel will become difficult or impossible in some situations. Delay your travel plans until conditions improve.
- Winter Weather Advisory: Be Aware. An advisory informs you that winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If you exercise caution, advisory situations shouldn’t become life-threatening.
- Blizzard Warning lets you know that snow and strong winds will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill.