CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Thursday is Winter Weather Awareness Day in Iowa. Of course, we’ve been thrown into the season a little early this year, but it’s good to review terminology and safety information.
• Winter storm watch: an impactful snow or ice event is expected within the next few days.
• Winter weather advisory: wintry precipitation will be manageable if caution is taken. These usually happen when just a few inches of snow is expected.
• Winter storm warning: Heavy snow or sleet, possibly combined with some wind, will be more dangerous. These usually happen when at least six inches of snow is expected.
• Ice storm warning: Major ice accumulation of at least a quarter-inch is expected, causing dangerous travel and possibly power outages.
• Blizzard warning: Winds of 35 mph or higher will blow snow and reduce visibility to a quarter-mile or less for at least three hours. Snow does not need to be heavy, or even falling, for this to happen.
• Snow squall warning: Narrow, short-lived bursts of snow (similar to thunderstorms, but with snow instead of rain) could lead to suddenly dangerous travel. These are what usually cause large crashes on highways.
Don’t forget about wind chill! This is an “apparent” temperature on exposed human skin. Typically, your body has a thin layer of heat surrounding it. However, when the wind blows, it whisks away that warmth, causing the temperature of your body to fall. Wind chills below zero can cause frostbite in a half-hour, while wind chills of -30 cause frostbite in just ten minutes.
There are other winter-weather hazards you should be ready for, such as black ice, flash freezes, and freezing drizzle.
You can learn more about those, and other winter-weather information, at this link.