We experience all kinds of winter weather here in the 2 Virginias. Below is a list of warnings and advisories that are common to our area and that you may see us address on the air.
NOAA'S NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAYS:
KNOW YOUR WINTER WEATHER TERMS
NOAA's National Weather Service urges residents to keep abreast of local forecasts and warnings and familiarize themselves with key weather terminology.
Winter Storm Warning: Issued when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is imminent or occurring. Winter Storm Warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin.
Winter Storm Watch: Alerts the public to the possibility of a blizzard, heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet. Winter Storm Watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a Winter Storm.
Blizzard Warning: Issued for sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more, and falling or blowing snow creating visibilities at or below ¼ mile; these conditions should persist for at least three hours.
Wind Chill Warning: Issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be hazardous to life within several minutes of exposure.
Wind Chill Advisory: Issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be a significant inconvenience to life with prolonged exposure, and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to hazardous exposure.
Winter Weather Advisories: Issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet which will cause significant inconveniences and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to life-threatening situations.
Dense Fog Advisory: Issued when fog will reduce visibility to ¼ mile or less over a widespread area.
High Wind Warning: This means the expected winds will average 40 miles an hour or more for at least 1 hour or winds gusts will be greater than 58 miles an hour. Trees and power lines can be blown down. A High Wind Warning may be preceded by a HIGH WIND WATCH if the strong winds are not expected to occur for at least 12 hours.
Ice storm warning: A significant coating of ice, one-quarter inch or more, is expected.
When we are talking about non-severe weather, you may hear us mention terms like "snow showers" "flurries" or "squalls". Here is what they mean, along with other common winter weather terms:
Snow Flurries: Light snow falling for short durations. No accumulation or light dusting is all that is expected.
Snow Showers: Snow falling at varying intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible.
Snow Squalls: Brief, intense snow showers accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation may be significant. The sun may come out in between snow squalls.
Blowing Snow: Wind-driven snow that reduces visibility and causes significant drifting. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling and/or loose snow on the ground picked up by the wind.
Frost: Describes the formation of thin ice crystals on the ground or other surfaces. Frost develops when the temperature of the earth's surface falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but because frost is primarily an event that occurs as the result of radiational cooling, it frequently occurs with air temperatures in the middle 30s.
Freeze: Occurs when the surface air temperature is expected to be 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below over a widespread area for a significant period of time.
Sleet: Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorists.
Freezing Rain: Rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars, and roads, forming a coating or glaze of ice. Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard.
Graupel: Small pellets of ice created when supercooled water droplets coat, or rime, a snowflake. The pellets are cloudy or white, not clear like sleet, and often are mistaken for hail.
Blowing snow: Wind driven snow that reduces visibility to six miles or less causing significant drifting. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling and/or loose snow on the ground picked up by the wind.
Drifting snow: Uneven distribution of snowfall caused by strong surface winds. Drifting snow does not reduce visibility.
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