Winter Warnings Vs. Watches
The labels of storm watches & warnings flash across our screens on a consistent basis, but do you know what each one means?
Winter watches are conditions favorable for a winter storm event, which is a threat to life and/or property. They are issued in advance of the storm, which is usually 24 hours. This indicates the risk of a hazardous winter weather event has increased (at least 50% chance of it occurring), but it’s occurrence, location and/or timing is still uncertain. This alert is intended to provide enough lead time to make plans in order to stay safe.
An advisory is issued for one or more of the following:
- Snow of 3-5 inches in 12 hours
- An accumulation of more than ½” of sleet
- Freezing rain with sleet/snow
- Blowing snow
As the event becomes more imminent, a watch would usually be upgraded to an advisory (which indicates an 80% or greater probability of occurrence. An advisory indicates conditions that pose a significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.
Warnings are issued for one or more of the following:
- Heavy snow of 6 inches in 12 hours or 8 inches in 24 hours
- Sleet of ¼” or more
- Ice accumulation of ¼” or more
- Blizzard conditions for at least three hours
A warning indicates the conditions pose a threat to life and property, and that travel will become difficult to impossible. These are statements made when there is currently a winter storm occurring or is about to occur in the area.