Winter weather alerts explained - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Winter weather alerts explained

Posted: Updated:
TOLEDO, Ohio -

We've had plenty of active weather the past few weeks.  Often these storms come accompanied with weather alerts.  These are issued by the National Weather Service (occasionally by the Storm Prediction Center, as well, though they are part of the NWS).

There are numerous types and colors of advisories, watches and warnings.  We'll never see many of these in our area but we wanted to refresh your memory on some of the common winter-time alerts. 

A Winter Weather Advisory comes in a blue-gray color.  This one has a lot of discretion for the forecasters who send it out.  It's often issued for a combination of snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain, etc.  For snow, it's often for prolonged storm events. Generally, it's for storms that bring less than seven inches of snow in a day.  The Advisory is the lowest-ranked of the three.

A Winter Storm Watch is more of a teal blue and gray combination.  The Watch is issued farther in advance, to give people time to prepare for an incoming storm.  For our case, that's why we've seen Watches issue far out before our past two snow events.  This is the medium category and often leads up to a Winter Storm Warning being issued.

The Winter Storm Warning is generally for the potential for seven inches of snow within a 24-hour period.  It's color is hot pink, so it's easily identifiable.  It's the top-end for these alerts and doesn't come all that often to northwest Ohio.  You may be wondering why a Warning was not issued for the last storm when many areas saw 10"+ of snow.  That was a technical decision made because it was a lengthy storm.  Even though 10 inches of snow fell, there wasn't seven inches on a single day.  That storm was spread out over 45 hours, while our weekend storm will mostly fall on Sunday.

As for Blizzard Warnings, that's a VERY specific definition.  Here's a copy of what the Weather Service says:

Issued for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 mph or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less. These conditions are expected to prevail for a minimum of 3 hours.

  • Storm TeamMore>>

  • Coast Guard warns weekend boaters

    Coast Guard warns weekend boaters

    Thursday, April 17 2014 5:21 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:21:35 GMT
    The Coast Guard is warning boaters that despite the warmer weather, Lake Erie is still very cold. There is still some ice in eastern Lake Erie with a water temperature of 32 degrees. The water temperature
    Water temperatures are still very cold despite warmer weather.
  • Warmer temps impact local crops

    Warmer temps impact local crops

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:36 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:36:04 GMT
    "We're getting hotter, longer, warmer heat waves, that's going to be the real problem."Scott Heckathorn and his team are racing to find answers for how plants react to heat.  He's watched them adapt over
    "We're getting hotter, longer, warmer heat waves, that's going to be the real problem."
  • Toledo sets another record low

    Toledo sets another record low

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 2:31 PM EDT2014-04-16 18:31:35 GMT
    This morning's low temperature fell to 19 degrees which broke another record low. The old record was set 139 years ago when the temperature fell to 20 degrees. While today is the first time this month
    Old record was set in 1875.

Weather: Home | Forecast | Radar | Cams

  • Top StoriesMore>>

  • Bodies of 2 boaters recovered; 2 still missing

    Bodies of 2 boaters recovered; 2 still missing

    Thursday, April 17 2014 11:05 PM EDT2014-04-18 03:05:29 GMT
    The Coast Guard is searching for a missing boat with at least three people on board.Officials say they received a report of a 21-foot bath boat that hadn't returned when it was expected.They say the boaters
    The search continues by air and water for two boaters who are still missing in Lake Erie.  The US Coast Guard found two women dead in the water this afternoon. The search for two men who were with them is ongoing.
  • Ohio prison vendor hit for damages

    Ohio prison vendor hit for damages

    Friday, April 18 2014 8:46 AM EDT2014-04-18 12:46:21 GMT
    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state has hit a private food vendor that holds the contract for feeding Ohio prison inmates with $142,100 in damages for failing to meet contractual requirements. The Department
    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state has hit a private food vendor that holds the contract for feeding Ohio prison inmates with $142,100 in damages for failing to meet contractual requirements. The Department
  • Mumps cases at central Ohio community college

    Mumps cases at central Ohio community college

    Columbus health officials say they've confirmed 2 cases of mumps at a local community college as an outbreak of the illness continues.
    Columbus health officials say they've confirmed two cases of mumps at a local community college as an outbreak of the illness continues.

Area Events Calendar

See It, Shoot It, Send It!