Snow Storms: While the danger from winter weather varies across the country, nearly all Americans, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.
One of the primary concerns is the winter weather's ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region.
The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.
Winter weather advisory: When a significant winter storm or hazardous winter weather is occurring, imminent, and is an inconvenience.
Winter storm warning: A significant winter storm or hazardous winter weather is occurring, imminent, or likely, and is a threat to life and property.
Blizzard warning: Winds that are at least 35 mph or greater, blowing snow that will frequently reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less for at least three hours, and dangerous wind chills are expected in the warning area.
Wind chill index: The calculation of temperature that takes into consideration the effects of wind and temperature on the human body. This is not the actual air temperature, but what it feels like to the average person. This wind chill chart shows the difference between actual air temperature and perceived temperature, and the amount of time until frostbite occurs.