Winter in the Tristate is always all over the place. One minute it's mild and the next minute it's like we live at the North Pole. We just never know what we're going to get.

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The only way we can predict what winter will bring us, in the far future, is to consult the Farmer's Almanac or other weather prediction sources. But, to get up-to-date, science-based, more accurate, right now readings of what winter weather is headed our way, it's the National Weather Service and our local weather meteorologists.

Local meteorologists like Wayne Hart, Ron Rhoads Joe Byrd, and Stacy May use weather terms to help us prepare for upcoming severe winter weather. But, sometimes the terms they use can get confusing.

Just how bad will it be if we have a winter weather warning? How concerned should I be if there is a winter weather advisory issue? If there is a winter weather watch, should I cancel my plans and buy milk and crackers?

It can get very confusing and to keep you and your family safe, you need to know what each term means.

Since the prediction sites say that winter 2022 is looking to be colder and snowier than the past several years, I thought I should remind you of exactly what winter weather terms mean.

What's the difference between a winter weather watch, warning, and advisory?

According to, the terms are broken down like this,

A <strong>Warning</strong> indicates that conditions pose a threat to life or property, and that travel will become difficult to impossible. An<strong> Advisory </strong>indicates conditions pose a significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.

This graphic from the Nationa Weather Service helps to understand the terms even more.

National Weather Service
National Weather Service
loading... goes on to explain the different types of winter warnings and advisories.

  • Winter Storm Warning indicates that heavy snow of at least 6 inches in 12 hours, or at least 8 inches in 24 hours, is expected. It can also be issued if sleet accumulation will be at least half an inch. 
  • An Ice Storm Warning indicates that ice accumulation of at least 1/4 inch is expected.
  • Blizzard Warning indicates that blizzard conditions (low visibility of less than 1/4 mile due to falling and/or blowing snow, and winds at least 35 mph) are expected for at least 3 hours. 
  • Freezing Rain Advisory indicates that ice accumulation of up to 1/4 inch is expected.
  • Winter Weather Advisory is issued for one or more of the following:  Snow of 3 to 5 inches in 12 hours, sleet accumulation up to 1/4 inch, freezing rain in combination with sleet and/or snow, or blowing snow. 


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