Difference Between Winter Weather Advisory and Blizzard Warning

A warning means that conditions are already happening

Snow squall in Hadley. Viewer photo via Report It

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Throughout the winter season, many advisories, watches, and warnings are issued throughout Massachusetts. Depending on how intense a storm is and how hard it is expected to hit, will determine what kind of alert is issued because all three are very different from each other. The following definitions have to deal with snow alone because even advisories, watches, and warnings are different from different kinds of weather Massachusetts sees.

A ” Winter Weather Advisory” is the lowest intensity of a winter alert. It is issued when 2-4 inches of snow, or a combination of sleet and freezing, is expected within an area. This would led to a significant inconvenience for residents.

A “Winter Storm Watch” is second on the intensity scale for alerts. This means there is a chance for significant and hazardous winter weather within 48 hours. It doesn’t mean it will happen but it is possible. This includes the possibility for 5 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 12 hour period or 7 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 24 hour period, enough ice accumulation to create damage to trees or powerlines, and lastly the chance for a combination of snow/ice accumulation along with wind.

A “Winter Storm Warning” is when hazardous winter weather is already occurring. This includes the same guidelines as a winter storm watch:  5 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 12 hour period or 7 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 24 hour period, enough ice accumulation to create damage to trees or powerlines, and lastly a combination of snow/ice accumulation along with wind.

Finally a “Blizzard Warning” is the most intense on the winter weather scale for alerts. This means that conditions are occurring or will within 12 to 18 hours. These conditions include, snow or blowing snow to reduce visibility to a 1/4 mile or less than 3 hours or more, and sustained winds of 35 MPH or more or frequent gusts up to 35 MPH or more.

Other advisories can be issued such as ice storm warning, freezing rain advisory, freeze watch or warning. frost advisory, or wind chill advisory or warning. All winter time alerts other than snow/blizzard related storms. You can find a list of definitions not only for winter but also for other season at the National Weather Service’s website.

More Information:
– Local Forecast – Weather Text Alerts
– Temperatures – Weather Email Alerts
– Weather News WWLP 22News Weather App
– Interactive Radar – Live Area Webcams

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