Find Out These Winter Season Weather Terms Prior To the Next Huge Storm

Although it currently feels as though this winter season has actually extended on permanently, technically we’re less than one month into the season. And while some parts of the country have actually been knocked by winter season storms already, others have primarily knowledgeable reasonably moderate weather condition so far. However it’s only a matter of time prior to we look out to an incoming winter season storm, and it’s finest to be prepared.

Like summertime weather condition, winter season storm terms is full of terms and concepts we’ve heard of previously, however that we may not be completely sure of what they involve– things like the difference between a snow shower and snow squall, or sleet and an ice storm. And, of course, there’s the Nor’easter– something all of us pretend to comprehend, but in reality, we just know that it’s bad.

Well, the pretending ends now. Here’s a breakdown of some typical winter weather terms, as well as some background on other winter safety concerns, directly from a meteorologist at the National Weather Condition Service.


Typical winter storm terms

Let’s begin with some terms and ideas necessary for understanding winter weather:

Winter season storm watches, cautions, and advisories

Like summertime storms, there are various terms used for the varying severity of possible winter weather:

Winter Weather Advisory: light quantities of wintery weather condition is expected.

: light quantities of wintery weather condition is expected. Winter Season Storm Watch: medium confidence that there will be a storm that could produce snow, sleet and/or ice, with the possibility of significant effects.

: medium self-confidence that there will be a storm that could produce snow, sleet and/or ice, with the possibility of considerable effects. Winter Storm Caution: high self-confidence that there will be a storm that could produce snow, sleet and/or ice, with the possibility of considerable impacts.


Black ice

Black ice is often clear, making the road surface visible below it. Patches of black ice normally look like wet pavement.


Freezing rain vs. sleet

Freezing rain is rain that freezes when it hits the ground. Sleet, on the other hand, is rain that relies on ice pellets prior to it reaches the ground. Both freezing rain and sleet can leave a finish of ice on roads, walkways, trees, and power lines.



Brief durations of light snow falling, with little or no build-up.

Snow showers

The term for snow falling at varying intensities for brief amount of times, with some possible build-up.


Snow squalls

According to Michael Muccilli, Meteorologist and Winter Season Program Organizer at NOAA/National Weather Service, snow squalls are “localized areas of heavy snow and gusty winds that, while brief enduring, can rapidly reduce exposures to near no, cause flash freezing of ice and snow on roadways and sidewalks, and trigger multi-vehicle pileups.”



Blizzards are winter season storms with continual winds or regular gusts of 35 miles per hour or higher in addition to snow. They have the potential to reduce exposure to less than a quarter mile for 3 hours or more. Ground blizzards, on the other hand, establish with little or no concurrent (or brand-new) snowfall.


Lake impact snow

When cold air, regularly from Canada, moves across the unfrozen and relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes, the warmth and wetness transfers into the lowest part of the atmosphere. This air rises, forming clouds, which then become narrow band of what is referred to as lake impact snow, that produces 2 to 3 inches of snow per hour or more.


A Nor’easter is a storm that establishes along the East Coast of The United States And Canada, and gets its name due to the fact that the winds over the coastal location are usually from the northeast. Nor’easter s can take place any time of year, but are most typical and severe between September and April.


The Winter Storm Severity Index

This winter season we have a new tool to help us examine winter storms, thanks to the National Weather Condition Service. It’s called the Winter season Storm Seriousness Index (WSSI) and is a scale that uses projections to help determine the prospective impacts from a winter storm in any provided area:


Not only is it helpful in getting ready for the weather, the part of the National Weather Service site that includes the WSSI offers users with additional details of specific elements of a storm, Muccilli explains. These consist of:

Snow Amount: the actual quantity or rate of accumulation.

the real quantity or rate of build-up. Snow Load: the amount of liquid included in the snow, which can weigh heavily on trees and/or power lines, leading to failures.

the amount of liquid contained in the snow, which can tax trees and/or power lines, leading to outages. Ice Accumulation: the amount of ice on surface areas.

: the amount of ice on surface areas. Flash Freeze: quickly falling temperature levels resulting in rapid ice formation.

quickly falling temperatures resulting in quick ice formation. Blowing Snow: snow that is falling and blowing around, lowering exposures.

snow that is falling and blowing around, reducing presences. Ground Blizzard: blowing snow due to snow that is currently on the ground.

Winter power interruptions

Though we might associate power outage more with severe summer season weather, it’s also something that can take place throughout the winter– for a number of the very same factors. Here’s how Muccilli discusses it:

Power interruptions in the winter can have a number of various causes. Strong, damaging winds can be one factor, as they can damage trees, power poles, and power lines. In addition, heavy snow on trees and power lines can trigger damage with its weight lowering power lines, leading to power outages. Lastly, ice build-up due to freezing rain can likewise develop on trees and power lines, causing power outages too.


Driving in winter weather

Even if you matured in a location with severe winter season weather condition, driving throughout a snow or ice storm can be difficult (and frightening, in some cases). Much of winter driving safety comes down to sound judgment, like:

Have your vehicle stocked with materials in case of an emergency.

Slow down.

Stay alert and prevent dangerous behaviors, like texting or other diversions.

Don’t crowd snowplows.

However there are also a lot of misconceptions about winter season driving. Here are a couple of Muccilli highlighted:


Even if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle or winter tires, it doesn’t suggest you do not have to decrease. These help you navigate in winter driving conditions, however don’t negate the effects of the snow and ice to the roadway and the vehicle.

The roadway may appear as though it’s just damp, however it might be covered in black ice and be extremely slippery.

Constantly eliminate snow or ice from the totality of a lorry car. Only clearing a little window on your windscreen for you to see out of threatens and limits your peripheral vision.

Leaving snow on the roof of your car can be dangerous, as it can slide down onto your windshield, or fly off and into the cars and truck behind you.


Winter storms may not get as much attention as powerful typhoons, but they’re definitely capable of plenty of damage and include their own set of safety dangers. For the remainder of the season (and in future winter seasons), let’s take it slow on the roadways, be prepared for emergency situation scenarios, and take notice of storm warnings in our location.

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