Safety first – stay informed this winter

The National Weather Service (NWS) issues winter storm warnings and watches. Here’s what they mean and what you should do.

Winter Storm Watch – Winter storm conditions (heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain) are possible within the next 36-48 hours. Continue monitoring the weather forecast.

Winter Storm or Ice Storm Warning – A significant winter storm is occurring or will begin in the next 24 hours. The combination of snow, sleet, freezing rain and moderate winds will impact travel and outdoor activities. An Ice Storm Warning is issued when mostly freezing rain is expected with ice accumulations of ¼ inch or more within a 12-hour period. Take necessary precautions – consider canceling travel plans.

Blizzard Warning – A dangerous storm with winds that are 35 mph or greater in combination with falling and/or blowing snow that reduces visibility to 1/4 mile or less for a duration of at least 3 hours.

Winter Weather Advisory – There is a high confidence that a hazardous winter event will happen, but the event likely will not meet warning criteria.

Wind Chill Advisory – Issued for bitter cold wind chills.

Wind Chill Warning – Issued when frostbite is possible when outside for 10 minutes or less.

Wind Chill Calculatorhttp://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/windchill/index.shtml