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Winter weather related Warnings, Watches and Advisories are issued by your local National Weather Service office. Each office knows the local area and will issue Warnings, Watches or Advisories based on local criteria. For example, the amount of snow that triggers a “Winter Storm Warning” in the Northern Plains is typically much higher than the amount needed to trigger a “Winter Storm Warning” in the Southeast:
Warnings: Take Action!
Winter Storm Warnings
Wind Chill Warnings
Lake Effect Snow Warnings
Snow Squall Warning
Watches: Be Prepared
Winter Storm Watches
Wind Chill Watches
Lake Effect Snow Watches
Advisories: Be Aware
Winter Weather Advisories
Freezing Rain Advisories
Wind Chill Advisories
Lake Effect Snow Advisory.
Freezing Rain: Rain that freezes when it hits a surface; creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
Sleet: Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
Wind Chill: A measure of how cold people feel due to the combined effect of wind and cold temperatures; the Wind Chill Index is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin. Both cold temperatures and wind remove heat from the body; as the wind speed increases during cold conditions, a body loses heat more quickly. Eventually, the internal body temperature also falls and hypothermia can develop. Animals also feel the effects of wind chill, but inanimate objects, such as vehicles and buildings, do not. They will only cool to the actual air temperature, although much faster during windy conditions.
Before the storm strikes, make sure your home, office and vehicles are stocked with the supplies you might need. Know how to dress for varying degrees of cold weather.
At Home and Work.
Your primary concerns at home or work during a winter storm are loss of heat, power and telephone service and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day. In either place, you should have Home & Work Winter Storm Survival Kit.
Before you leave the house, call 511 for the latest traffic weather conditions. TAKE IT SLOW IN THE SNOW.
Fully check and winterize your vehicle before the winter season begins. Carry a Car Winter Storm Survival Kit.
On the Farm, Pet Owners.
Move animals to sheltered areas or bring pets inside.
Haul extra feed to nearby feeding areas.
Have water available. Most animals die from dehydration in winter storms.
Make sure pets have plenty of food and water and a warm shelter
When caught in a winter storm, there are life saving actions you can take to protect yourself outside, in a vehicle and inside your home or office.
When There Is No Shelter Nearby: Build a lean-to, windbreak or snow cave for protection from the wind.
Melt Snow for Drinking Water: Eating unmelted snow will lower your body temperature.
Exercise: From time to time, move arms, legs, fingers and toes vigorously to keep blood circulating.
Stay Inside: When using heat from a fire place, wood stove, space heater, etc., use fire safeguards and properly ventilate. If you have a gas furnace, make sure it is not blocked by a snowdrift as soon as it’s safe to go out. If you have an upstairs gas furnace which vents out the roof, you may need to turn off the upstairs unit until the snow melts off your roof.
Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans and check supplies and your safe room.
Be ready to act quickly if NWS issues a warning or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps save lives!
Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.
Tornado Warning: Take Action!
A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy shelter. Avoid windows.
If you are in a mobile home, a vehicle or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and cover your head to avoid flying debris. Local NWS offices issue warnings.
Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area, around the size of a city or small county. Warnings are issued when a tornado is spotted on the ground or identified by a forecaster on radar.
Stay Weather-Ready: Continue to listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated about tornado watches and warnings.
At Your House
If you are in a tornado warning area, go to your basement, safe room or an interior room away from windows. Don’t forget pets if time allows.
At Your Workplace/School
Follow your tornado drill and proceed to your tornado shelter quickly and calmly. Stay away from windows and do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums or auditoriums.
Seek shelter inside a sturdy building immediately if a tornado is approaching. Sheds and storage facilities are NOT safe.
In a Vehicle
Being in a vehicle during a tornado is NOT safe. The best course of action is to drive to the closest shelter. If you are unable to make it to a safe shelter, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low lying area such as a ditch or ravine.