Prepare: Winter Storms

As the autumn season moves forward, we have already seen winter storm conditions in the U.S. Understanding the hazards associated with winter storms, as well as how and where to get storm information, will help with planning and preparing for the dangers of winter weather.
Winter storm hazards include heavy snow (blizzards, blowing snow, snow squalls, snow showers, snow flurries), ice, winter flooding (coastal floods, ice jams, snow melt), and cold (wind chill, frostbite, hypothermia).

Winter storms must have three components to form: Cold air (the temperature must be below freezing in the clouds and near the ground), moisture (sources include water evaporating from lakes or the ocean), and lift (air being forced to rise such as with a collision of warm and cold air or the flow up a mountain side).

The National Weather Service (NWS) issues various products on all winter weather hazards to inform the public. Use the information in these products to make informed decisions on your risk and actions:

  • Outlook: Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 2-5 days
  • Watch: Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 36-48 hours
  • Warning: Life-threatening severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours
  • Advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous

Protect yourself, pets, and your home by keeping informed and having a plan that includes a disaster supply kit. Recognizing weather threats is important and may prevent fatalities, injuries, and accidents.

Source: NOAA Winter Storm Preparedness Guide