Winter weather terminology explained


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – As Winter Weather Preparedness week comes to an end, WANE 15 asked people in the community various questions about winter weather alerts.

Answers greatly varied, but people generally had a sense of heightened awareness when winter weather alerts are issued.

Winter Storm Watch

The National Weather Service typically issues a Winter Storm Watch 1 to 3 days before a winter event that is deemed to be intense enough to pose a threat to life or property. At the point of a Winter Storm Watch issuance, exact details on timing, amount of snow, or specific risks may still be unclear, however people should take note of the watch issuance and prepare for the potential of an impactful winter weather event.

A Winter Storm Watch is then upgraded to either a Winter Weather Advisory or a Winter Storm Warning.

Winter Weather Advisory

A Winter Weather Advisory focuses on the specific precipitation hazards of winter weather. General advisory criteria from the National Weather service is a 3-5” average snowfall over a twelve hour period, but could be issued for sleet, freezing rain, or blowing snow. If a Winter Weather Advisory is issued, people should prepare for hazardous travel.

Winter Storm Warning

Based on answers from the community, it’s clear that people have a heightened sense of awareness when it comes to the word warning. The Winter Storm Warning is the alert that requires the most action. It is generally issued when either: 6”+ of snow in a 12 hour period, or 8”+ of snow in a 24 hour period. The Winter Storm Warning means that travel will likely be severely impacted, and people should special attention to hazard criteria outlined for their specific location.

Winter weather alerts are available on the WANE Weather App, which is available for free on a devices app store.

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