Be Prepared for Winter Storms

First, know what your local ordinances on plowing/shoveling and snow emergencies are.

Second, know the terms used to describe changing winter weather conditions and what actions to take.

  • Freezing Rain – Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
  • Sleet – Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Wind Chill– Windchill is the temperature it “feels like” when you are outside. 
  • Winter Weather Advisory – Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. 
  • Winter Storm Watch – A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information. The NWS issues a winter storm watch when severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, may affect your area but the location and timing are still uncertain. A winter storm watch is issued 12 to 36 hours in advance of a potential severe storm. 
  • Winter Storm Warning – A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
  • Blizzard Warning – Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
  • Frost/Freeze Warning – Below freezing temperatures are expected.

Winter storms can range from a light dusting to moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow. They can be accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain. There may be power outages, and driving and walking can be very dangerous.