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The National Weather Service (NWS) is responsible for issuing winter storm Watches, Warnings and Advisories to alert the public when dangerous winter conditions are expected.
Freezing Rain - Rain that freezes upon contact with a cold surface. Freezing rain creates a glaze of ice.
Sleet - Solid grains of ice formed from rain that freezes before reaching the ground. These pellets of ice tend to bounce upon contact and may accumulate enough to cover the ground, even to a depth of several inches.
|Snow Intensity versus Visibility|
|Light||greater than 1/2 statue mile|
|Moderate||1/4 to 1/2 statue mile|
|Heavy||less than 1/4 statue mile|
Snow Squall - An intense fall of accumulating snow, reducing visibility significantly and often accompanied by increased winds.
Advisory - A less severe winter weather event that is imminent.
Watch - The potential exists for a significant or dangerous weather event.
Warning - A significant or dangerous weather event that is imminent.
Hazardous Weather Outlook - The Hazardous Weather Outlook usually provides three to seven-day advance notice of a hazardous winter weather event which has the potential to threaten life or property.
Short Term Forecast - Describes the weather in the local area and includes a short-range forecast (usually not more than six hours). This product will be updated more frequently when it is used during active weather. This product is also sometimes referred to as a "NOWcast."
Special Weather Statement - Designed to alert the public to a short term hazardous weather threat within twelve hours of occurrence, which may require a heightened level of awareness or action.
Highlight hazardous weather conditions which could lead to life-threatening situations if caution is not exercised. Advisories are usually issued 6-18 hours prior to the weather event.
Dense Fog Advisory - Issued when widespread fog will reduce visibility to one-fourth mile or less.
Freezing Rain Advisory - Issued for freezing rain or freezing drizzle: any accretion or accumulation up to one-fourth inch.
Lake Effect Snow Advisory - Issued when 4-5 inches of widespread or localized lake effect snow is expected to fall over the snow belt of Northeast Ohio in 12 hours or less.
Wind Advisory - Issued when sustained winds are expected to be 31 - 39 mph for at least an hour, or any wind gust between 46 and 57 mph.
Wind Chill Advisory - Issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be 10-24 degrees below zero except 20-29 degrees below zero in extreme northwest Ohio.
Winter Weather Advisory - Issued for any combination of accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle or sleet that will cause significant inconvenience and moderately dangerous conditions. An advisory is also issued when visibilities from a combination of snow and blowing snow will be reduced to ¼ mile or less. An advisory is issued when snow is expected to accumulate 3-5 inches in 12 hours in Northern Ohio and 2-3 inches in 12 hours in Southern Ohio.
A Watch means the potential exists for a significant/dangerous weather event. A Watch is usually issued between 12 and 48 hours before a weather event.
Blizzard Watch - Alerts the public to the potential for blizzard conditions. Watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of blizzard conditions.
High Wind Watch - Issued when there is the potential for dangerous winds.
Lake Effect Snow Watch - Issued when there is a potential for a significant lake effect snow event.
Wind Chill Watch - Issued when there is a potential for dangerous wind chill values.
Winter Storm Watch - Alerts the public to the potential for heavy snow, significant icing or a combination of these events. Watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a winter storm.
A Warning means a significant or dangerous weather event is imminent. Warnings are usually issued 6-18 hours prior to the weather event.
Blizzard Warning - Issued for sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more and falling or blowing snow creating visibilities below ¼ mile. These conditions usually persist for at least three hours.
High Wind Warning - Issued for when sustained winds will be 40 mph or greater for at least one hour, or any gust of wind expected to be 58 mph or greater.
Ice Storm Warning - Issued if the event will be entirely ice accrual.
Criteria: ice accumulation of ¼ inch or more from freezing rain and damage expected.
Lake Effect Snow Warning - Issued for the snow-belt of Northeast Ohio when lake effect snow is expected to accumulate to 6 inches or more in 12 hours or less, or 8 inches of snow in 24 hours or less.
Wind Chill Warning - Issued for dangerous, life-threatening wind chills less than or equal to -25 degrees Fahrenheit except -30 degrees Farenheit in extreme northwest Ohio.
Winter Storm Warning - A Winter Storm Warning is issued for heavy snow or
when a combination of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, heavy sleet or blowing
and drifting snow is expected to occur. The heavy snow criterion for a warning
Criteria: Approximately 6 inches of snow is expected in 12 hours or less across Northern and Central Ohio, and 4 inches in 12 hours across Southern Ohio; or approximately 8 inches or more of snow in 24 hours or less across northern and central Ohio and 6 inches or more of snow in 24 hours across Southern Ohio.
See the following winter storm warning criteria maps provided by the National Weather Service: