Friday, November 7, 2008

Simple Survival Tips - Winter Weather Terms

In many areas of the country, winters can bring extremely heavy snowfall, dangerous ice storms, deadly blizzards and extremely cold temperatures created by dangerous wind chill effects. To be properly prepared for severe winter weather, make sure you understand the common terms used to refer to the different types of winter weather.

Winter Weather Terms

Blizzard Warning - This is a combination of cold air, heavy snows, and strong winds with blowing snow which reduces visibility to near zero. This is the most dangerous of all winter storms. Blizzard warnings are usually issued when the National Weather Service predicts a heavy accumulation of snow together with winds exceeding 35 miles an hour and temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit over an extended period of time.

Blowing Snow Warning - This is wind driven snow that reduces visibility significantly and may cause significant build-up of snow drifts. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling or loose snow on the ground picked up by the wind. It can also be a combination of both.

Freezing Rain or Drizzle Warning - This is rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars, power lines, sidewalks and roads creating a thin coating or a smooth glaze of ice. When this glaze appears on roadways it is commonly referred to as “Black Ice” and can be very hazardous to persons traveling on highways.

Frost and or Freeze Warning - This is issued when below freezing temperatures are expected and may cause damage to plants, crops, or fruit trees.

Sleet - This is raindrops 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 vehicular traffic.

Snow - This is a steady snowfall which typically lasts for several hours. This is sometimes qualified as occasional or intermittent snow.

Snow Flurries - Light Snow falling for short periods of time. No accumulation of snow is expected. Visibility may be slightly reduced in these conditions.

Wind Chill - “Wind chill” is how cold it feels outside when the effects of temperature and wind speed are combined together. A strong wind combined with a temperature just below freezing can make the air feel several degrees colder and may cause the issuance of a Wind Chill Warning.

Wind Chill Index - This is when a very strong wind combined with a temperature slightly below freezing can have the same chilling effect as a temperature nearly 50 degrees Fahrenheit lower with calm conditions.

Winter Storm Warning - This means a severe winter storm is imminent. You should take precautionary measures and continue listening for future information. A Winter Storm Warning involves a forecast of heavy snow of 6 inches or more or less snow (3 to 6 inches) in combination with strong winds causing considerable blowing snow which may reduce visibility or cause greater than normal snow drifts. This may also include the possibility of heavy sleet or freezing rain. Traveling can be extremely hazardous.

Winter Storm Watch - Conditions are favorable for the development of severe winter weather.

Winter Weather Advisory - Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and traveling conditions may be extremely hazardous. These weather conditions are of lesser magnitude than a blizzard or winter storm warning. The National Weather Service will generally provide additional information on predicted weather conditions.

You can download a printable Wind Chill Chart (198 kb) here:

Staying above the water line!



scoutinlife said...

Good post!Thanks for the link....

riverwalker said...

To: scoutinlife

I thought a printable wind chart would be a good thing. I've lost mine it seems. Probably stuck it in one of my cold wether bags.


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