Winter Hazard Awareness Week - Talking Winter Weather Alerts

Example of weather alerts that occur during the winter season. ***This is not a real alert***
Example of weather alerts that occur during the winter season. ***This is not a real alert***(KEYC Weather)
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 11:38 AM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - November 15th does not only mark the middle of the month but is also the start to Winter Hazard Awareness Week for the state of Minnesota. It’s a week to remind folks of all the hazards that can come during the winter months ahead, while having fun, on the road, and at home. Monday, November 15th it is all about the various winter weather alerts.

All weather alerts are issued not to scare you but to inform you of what may happen or to what is currently happening. Here are all the latest weather alerts that you may see this winter season and what they mean. Even if you know them it is a good idea to give it a quick glance because sometimes the National Weather Service adds something new ore may tweak an existing alert.

Example of what the U.S. hazards outlook looks like.
Example of what the U.S. hazards outlook looks like.(National Weather Service & NOAA)

Hazardous Weather Outlook

One of the first signs of wintery weather ahead may show up on a hazardous weather outlook. It is a 3-7 day outlook product that depicts possible impending weather-related hazards. During the seasons when winter weather is possible, it will plot the probability risk for much below normal temperatures, high winds, heavy precipitation, heavy snow, and even freezing precipitation. Since this is an advanced outlook you should always keep an eye on the latest forecast for more precise information and to check for the latest weather alerts.

Winter Storm Watch

When you see this alert pop up it means watch the weather because the conditions are right in the areas highlighted for certain winter weather conditions to develop. Those conditions include; heavy snow, blowing snow, freezing rain, and sleet. Continue to monitor the latest forecast for updated alerts.

Winter Storm Warning

A warning means that the conditions are occurring or are imminent. A winter storm warning is issued for heavy snow of at least 6 inches in 12 hours or at least 8 inches in 24 hours. A warning may allows be issued for freezing rain and sleet with accumulation of a half an inch.

Blizzard Warning

It has nothing to do with snowfall totals and everything to do with the wind and lower visibility. The criteria for a blizzard are; low visibility of less than a 1/4 mile due to falling and or blowing snow, and winds at 35 mph or greater for a span of 3 hours or more. It is advised to never drive during blizzard conditions.

Snow Squall Warning

A snow squall warning is the newest member of the winter weather alerts and was first introduced on November 1st, 2018. These new warnings are similar to severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings and are issued for short lived heavy bursts of snow. This warning aims to bring better situation awareness to drivers and mitigate impacts related to these squalls. They are rare and most often associated with lake effect snow events. A snow squall warning will trigger the wireless emergency alert system.

Wind Chill

Midwesterners know the saying for the summer, it’s not the heat it’s the humidity, during the winter, it’s not the cold it’s the wind. A wind chill alert can either be issued as an advisory (a wind chill of -10 to -24º F expected) or as a warning (a wind chill of -25º F or lower expected). When temperatures reach the advisory and warning stage, frostbite can occur within minutes.

Winter Advisory

A winter advisory is advising you on some limited to minor impacts that will disrupt your day. Advisories can be issued 12 to 36 hours in advanced of any onset of precipitation. The criteria for a winter weather advisory are; snow of 3-5 inches in 12 hours, sleet or freezing rain with accumulation below a half an inch, and blowing snow.

To keep up with the latest winter weather alerts in your area you can download the KEYC News Now weather app.

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