16 Weather Advisories To Look Out For
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16 Weather Advisories To Look Out For

16 Weather Advisories To Look Out For
Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Statewide Tornado Drill is a yearly opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado emergencies and to test public warning systems.

Save the date! The 2017 Statewide Tornado Drill will take place on Tornado Preparedness Day, Tuesday, March 21, 2017, at 9:45 a.m. (If widespread severe weather threatens the Commonwealth on that date, then the drill will be on Wednesday, March 22, at 9:45 a.m.)

At approximately 9:45 a.m., the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning over NOAA Weather Radios. This test signal will sound a tone alert, show a test message or flash to indicate a message, simulating what people would hear or see during an actual tornado warning. Local radio stations, TV stations and cable outlets will also broadcast the test message via the Emergency Alert System.

Information Provided by the Virginia Dept. of Emergency Management

This is also a great time to check your disaster kit. Please remember to stay away from windows during the Tornado Drill and go to the lowest part of the house. This will be only a 15 min drill. Please remember to use social media outlets during severe weather. It might be a good time to buy a weather radio. It is easy to program; you just search weather radio codes for Virginia.

If there is a tornado warning, home residents need to decide if they will take shelter in place or seek a stronger shelter...think about, is there time to reach that shelter? You don’t want to be caught in the open or in a car - that is a worse-case scenario. If you are seeking shelter, go to a shelter location and seek additional information from an easy to obtain radio source. Many people ask what the difference is difference between an advisory, watch, and a warning. No matter what the actual weather you are dealing is, here is the basic rule of thumb:

WATCH essentially means a chance this condition will happen and usually covers a large geographical area for a lengthy time period.

WARNING means the said weather is already occurring or is likely to occur and to take proper protective measures. Warnings are usually issued for much smaller geographical areas and usually for shorter more definite time periods.

ADVISORIES are sort of in between a WATCH and WARNING. The expected weather condition has a pretty good chance of occurring, even a likely chance of occurring, but typically an advisory is used for less severe type of weather conditions. A Wind Advisory might be issued or a Freezing Rain Advisory issued instead of a High Wind Warning or an ice Storm Warning.

Yes, it can get confusing, even to us as meteorologists. There are a multitude of advisories, watches and warnings, all of which were developed by the good folks at the National Weather Service. Below I am listing mainly winter terms courtesy of the National Weather Service. Be sure to stay tuned to WSTM Channel 3, WSTQ CW6, NBC WeatherPlus on digital cable channel 133 and to keep checking here at CNYcentral.com daily and more often when bad weather hits.


This is a statement issued when there is a chance of a major winter storm from 3 to 5 days in the future. This is meant to assist people with their long range plans. However, since the outlook is issued so far in advance, the accuracy of the prediction may be limited.


This means there may be hazardous winter weather due to various elements such as heavy snow, sleet, or ice accumulation from freezing rain. In our region, heavy snow means 7 inches or more of accumulation in 24 hours or less. A "WATCH" is a long range prediction. They are issued at least 12 hours before the hazardous winter weather is expected to begin. When the storm becomes imminent, or has a high probability of occurring, the watch will be upgraded to a "WARNING".


Seven inches or more of snow will fall within a 24 hour period.


Heavy accumulation of ice due to freezing rain will down trees and power lines. Electricity, or telephone communications, may be out for a long period of time. Roads may become impassable for some vehicles.


This is issued for a combination of strong winds averaging or frequently gusting to, or above, 35 miles an hour and very low visibility due to blowing or falling snow. These are the most dangerous winter storms and can be especially severe when combined with temperatures below 10 degrees.


This is issued when a dangerous combination of heavy snow, with sleet and/or freezing rain, will occur or has a high probability of occurring within the next 12 hours.


This means the expected winds will average 40 miles an hour or more for at least 1 hour or winds gusts will be greater than 58 miles an hour. Trees and power lines can be blown down. A High Wind Warning may be preceded by a HIGH WIND WATCH if the strong winds are not expected to occur for at least 12 hours.


This means life threatening cold with wind chill temperatures computed to be -40 degrees or less for at least 3 hours. Exposure to this combination of strong winds and low temperatures without protective clothing will quickly lead to frostbite and/or hypothermia. Longer exposures can be fatal.


This is issued for snowfall greater than 4 (but less than 7) inches in a 24 hour period. The snowfall is usually expected to begin within the next 12 hours.


This is issued when the visibility will be significantly reduced, or when the roads become snow covered over a large area.


This is issued for cold temperatures and winds, with wind chill temperatures computed to be -25 degrees or less for at least 3 hours. Exposure to this combination of strong winds and low temperatures without protective clothing can lead to frostbite and/or hypothermia, Prolonged exposure may be fatal.


This is issued for a combination of snow, sleet, and/or freezing rain. Advisories, in general, are issued for weather conditions that are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, These situations are normally not life threatening if caution is exercised.


This is issued for average wind speeds between 31 and 39 miles an hour, or for frequent wind gusts between 46 and 57 miles an hour.



A Lake Effect Snow Watch is issued when there is a possibility of heavy lake effect snow (accumulating 7 inches of more within a 12 hour period). Lake effect snow usually occurs in narrow bands over limited areas. The watch is issued at least 12 hours before the snow is expected to begin, however its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain.


This is issued when heavy lake effect snow is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurring within the next 12 hours. The snow is expected to accumulate at least 7 inches with strong winds producing much high drifts. This is similar to a Winter Storm Warning for Heavy Snow, except Great Lakes induced squalls/showers occur in narrow bands and over limited areas. Lake effect snow squalls/showers can occur quite suddenly and cause blizzard-like conditions.


A Lake Effect Snow Advisory is issued for Great Lakes induced snowfall in western and central New York totaling between 4 and 7 inches in a 12 hour period. Blowing and drifting snow is also common in relatively limited areas and in narrow bands.

Be safe out there!

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