Here are some winter-weather-related tips to keep in mind this season. Here are the National Weather Service’s official definitions of these terms, so please try to adhere to them (e.g., don’t use “blizzard” when you really mean “heavy snow”).
blizzard Wind speeds of 35 mph or more and considerable falling and/or blowing of snow with visibility of less than one-quarter mile for 3 or more hours.
freeze Describes conditions when the temperature at or near the surface is expected to be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit during the growing season. Adjectives such as severe or hard are used if a cold spell exceeding two days is expected. A hard freeze is when the temperature drops to 28 degrees F in areas that don’t normally freeze.
freezing rain Rain that falls as a liquid but freezes into glaze upon contact with the cold ground or surface structures.
heavy snow Generally, either snow accumulating to 4 inches or more in depth in 12 hours, or snow accumulating to 6 inches or more in depth in 24 hours.
ice storm Synonymous with freezing rain. Significant accumulations, which can take down power lines, are usually one-quarter of an inch or greater.
nor’easter The term used by the National Weather Service for storms that either exit or move north along the East Coast, producing winds blowing from the northeast.
sleet Describes generally solid grains of ice formed by the freezing of raindrops or the refreezing of largely melted snowflakes before reaching the ground.
winter storm warning Notifies the public that a winter storm is producing, or is forecast to produce, heavy snow or significant ice accumulations.
winter storm watch Alerts the public that there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice accumulations. The watch is usually issued at least 24 hours in advance.
Stay safe, everyone!