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October 20, 2015 8:30 AM

Winter Weather Preparedness: Outlooks, Watches & Warnings – What do they mean?

When a warning is issued during the winter season, will you know what it means, and will you know how to respond?

OUTLOOKS:
A Hazardous Weather Outlook is issued daily by each National Weather Service office serving Colorado. The outlook provides information on potentially hazardous weather out to 7 days into the future. Also, the Weather Story, a graphic of expected hazardous weather, is posted daily on National Weather Service web sites serving Colorado.

WATCHES AND WARNINGS:

• Winter Storm Watch: A watch means that severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow or ice, may affect your area, but where, when and how much is still uncertain. NWS issues a watch to provide 12 to 36 hours notice of possible severe winter weather. A watch is intended to provide enough lead time for you to prepare.
• Winter Storm Warning NWS issues a warning when its scientists forecast 4 or more inches of snow or sleet in the next 12 hours, 6 or more inches in 24 hours, or 1/4 inch or more of ice accretion. A warning is used for conditions that pose a threat to life and property.
• Winter Weather Advisories inform you that winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If caution is exercised, advisory situations should not become life-threatening.
• Blizzard Warning let you know that snow and strong winds will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill.
Be sure to listen carefully to the radio, television and NOAA Weather Radio for the latest winter storm watches, warnings, and advisories.

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