Decoding Winter Weather Terms

Ever wonder what the winter weather terms really mean, how they decide what to issue and what exactly they are telling you to expect in terms of weather. Check out our winter weather cheat sheet to help you make informed decisions.

Winter Storm Watch – this means possible hazardous conditions due to snow, sleet, ice or freezing rain. The “Watch” means that it is a long range prediction and often issued at least 12 hours before the hazardous weather is expected to begin.

Winter Storm Warning -this means a winter storm has a high probability of occurring and a dangerous combination of heavy snow, with sleet, and/or freezing rain has a high probability of occurring within the next 12 hours.

Winter Weather Advisory – issued for any combination of snow, sleet, and/or freezing rain. In general, advisories are issued for conditions expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. These situations are normally not life threatening if caution is exercised.