Winter Weather Terms - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Winter Weather Terms

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Here is a review of the key hazardous winter weather terms used by the National Weather Service.  It is important for you to be familiar with these terms so that you can prepare for the onset of dangerous weather.

The National Weather Service uses a "Ready. Set. Go." approach to hazardous weather... from a storm outlook to a watch to a warning. 

Winter Storm (Hazardous Weather) OUTLOOK:

    Winter storm conditions are possible in the next two to five days.  Stay tuned to Valley News Live for regular updates from the Storm Team.

Winter Storm WATCH:

     Severe winter weather conditions may soon affect your area.  These conditions may include heavy snow, blowing snow, freezing rain, and/or sleet.  When a watch is issued for your area, you should begin to plan your activities so that you act before the storm hits.  Review your winter storm plans and check your disaster kits.  Pay close attention to further weather forecasts and statements.

Winter Storm WARNING: 

     Severe winter weather conditions are occurring or expected within a few hours.  Most warnings are issued for heavy snow and wind, but also may be issued for ice storms. When a warning is in effect travel may be life-threatening.  People in the warning area should take precautions immediately.

Blizzard WARNING:

     Visibilities are reduced to less than 1/4 mile for several hours because of falling and/or blowing snow.  The wind is blowing at least 35 mph.  Sheltered areas like cities and towns may not seem as bad, but in open country just outside of town whiteout conditions could be occurring. People in the warning area should take precautions immediately.

Heavy Snow WARNING:

     This is issued for snowfall of at least 6 inches in 12 hours, or 8 inches in 24 hours.  Generally, this type of warning is issued for heavy snowfalls without any other weather hazards such as strong wind or freezing rain. 

Wind Chill WARNING:

     Wind chill values of -40 or lower are expected. Getting caught outside in this weather can be dangerous. Exposed skin will freeze in a matter of minutes. Cover all exposed skin and dress in warm, loose-fitting layers to trap in heat.


     These are issued for conditions which warrant increased public awareness and care.  If you are cautious, these situations should not be life-threatening.

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