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Winter Weather Tip Sheet
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Winter Weather Tip Sheet

Winter Weather Tip Sheet

Winter Weather Tip Sheet

A Major Winter Storm is Moving Up the East Coast. How is it Monitored and Forecast?

Have you ever wondered how the National Weather Service can tell a major winter storm is brewing and will impact your area in the coming days or hours? How can meteorologists tell if a storm is intensifying and where it will bring the most snow? It's a highly sophisticated process. It all starts with observing the current situation. The National Weather Service operates a widespread network of observing systems such as geostationary satellites. Doppler radars, and automated surface observing systems that constantly monitor the current state-of-the-art numerical computer models to provide a glimpse of what will happen next - ranging from hours to days. The models are then analyzed by NWS meteorologists who use their experience and expertise to write and disseminate forecasts. Want to learn more about the technologies? Visit the following web page: www.nws.noaa.gov.

Winter Weather Watches, Warnings and Advisories- What do they all Mean?

The National Weather Service uses specific winter weather terms to ensure that people know what to expect in the coming days and hours . A Winter Storm Watch means that severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, may affect your area, but its occurrence, location and timing are still uncertain. A winter storm watch is issued to provide 12 to 36 hours notice of the possibility of severe winter weather. A winter storm watch is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set plans in motion can do so. A watch is upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning when 4 or more inches of snow or sleet is expected in the next 12 hours, or 6 or more inches in 24 hours, or 1/4 inch or more of ice accretion is expected. Winter Weather Advisories inform you that winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If caution is exercised, advisory situations should not become life-threatening. A Blizzard Warning means that snow and strong winds will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill. Be sure to listen carefully to the radio, television, and NOAA Weather Radio for the latest winter storm watches, warnings, and advisories. For additional information on this story, visit the Winter Weather Awareness web page at: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/winter

Why is Predicting the Exact Amount of Snowfall So Challenging?

Snow forecasts continue to improve, but they remain a challenging task for meteorologists. Heavy snow often falls in small bands that are hard to discern on larger resolution computer models. In addition, extremely small temperature differences define the boundary line between rain and snow.

Will the approaching storm bring heavy snowfall to your area?

Each winter, meteorologists at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., monitor weather data from across the nation for developing bands of heavy snow and freezing precipitation, as well as lightning, within weather systems. Their ability to provide additional information about developing situations enhances winter storm warnings and helps National Weather Service field offices, private industry and local governments improve preparedness. For instance, a prediction of eight inches of snow carries much greater consequences for a city's rush hour than four inches. Want to learn more about the Storm Prediction Center's operations? For additional information visit the Storm Prediction Center web page at http://www.spc.noaa.gov.

Are You Prepared for Winter Weather?

Winter weather too often catches people unprepared. Researchers say that 70 percent of the fatalities related to ice and snow occur in automobiles, and about 25 percent of all winter related fatalities are people that are caught off guard, out in the storm. What winter weather preparations are being made in your area, and what are the appropriate steps to take that will ensure your winter weather safety? Help your readers, viewers and listeners make sure their homes and cars are ready for the worst winter has to offer.

Getting the Latest Winter Weather Information

There is no better way to keep ahead of a winter storm than with NOAA Weather Radio (NWR), a small receiver device that can be purchased at many electronic stores. As the "Voice of the National Weather Service," it provides continuous broadcasts of the latest weather information from local National Weather Service offices. The NWR network has more than 425 stations, covering all 50 states, adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and U.S. Pacific Territories. Weather radios come in many sizes, with a variety of functions and costs. The NWR network has been further advanced by the implementation of Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology. The SAME allows the user to receive warnings only for their specific location. SAME receivers are a live-saving tool, providing audible alert tones for any weather warnings. A NOAA Weather Radio is a useful and potentially life-saving gift idea this holiday season.

What is Wind Chill?

One of the gravest dangers of winter weather is wind chill. The wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin by combined effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Animals are also effected by wind chill. Check out the wind chill chart on the Internet at  http://www.nws.noaa.gov/er/iln/tables.htm#wind.

NOAA's Snow and Ice Center

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) serves as the national information center that supports research in glaciers and freezing weather phenomenon. The NSIDC archives snow and ice data, and maintains information about everything from avalanches to icebergs. The NSIDC web site contains a fascinating list of Questions and Answers about snow that are sure to be of interest to anyone experiencing winter weather.

Hard At Work When the Storm Hits

While most of us stay home from work or school during severe winter weather, National Weather Service meteorologists are hard at work. Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, NWS meteorologists staff local offices across the country to make sure the latest forecasts, watches and warnings get out to emergency managers, the media, and the public. What's it like at a forecast office? Don't wait for a major winter storm; contact your local office and ask to spend the day with them, and observe the exciting, day-to-day process of forecasting the snow before it hits.

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The Latest News Headlines

  • A plane crashed into a home in a Marietta, Georgia, neighborhood Friday evening. >> Read more trending news The Federal Aviation Administration said a Cessna Citation I aircraft en route to the Fulton County Airport went down around 7:20 p.m. Firefighters arrived on the scene as the house was on fire. Everyone in the house was able to get out safely. There is no word on any other injuries. The FAA does not have any information on the circumstances or number of people on board.   
  • A 6-year-old boy is said to be in serious condition, after nearly drowning in the Bartram Springs community pool, just off Racetrack Road, near Philips Highway.   According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the child was with his family and lifeguards were on duty.   '[He] had some type of a condition, was observed under the water, was pulled out of the water, basic life support was initiated on the child,' explains a JSO officer.   The boy was rushed to Baptist South and eventually transferred to Wolfson Children's Hospital.
  • A Texas couple was charged with child endangerment Thursday after a woman told Harris County sheriff’s deputies that she found their 8-week-old child in the middle of a parking lot, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news A woman called police Tuesday night after finding the baby boy strapped to a car seat in a parking space in a Katy strip mall, the Houston Chronicle reported. The child was cold and fussy by the time the woman who called police, Dee Griffin-Stevens, found him, according to KHOU. “I just pictured my own children when they were that little,” she told the news station. “I call him ‘baby love,’ because I don’t know his name and probably won’t ever know his name, but I loved him and took care of him.” Authorities estimated that the child was left for at least 45 minutes before he was found. An employee at a nearby pizzeria recognized the infant and called his parents, according to KHOU.  Deputies arrested Sarah Shibley, 33, and Gary Collins, 39, on charges of child endangerment. “Shibley, who works at the pizzeria, said she left the child in the parking lot where she works and thought his father placed him in a car,” KHOU reported. Shilbey was released on $2,000 bond, according to the Chronicle. Collins remained jailed Friday.
  • An Oklahoma company is recalling nearly 1 million pounds of breaded chicken products sold nationwide after customers complained of finding “metal objects” in the food. >> Read more trending news About 933,300 pounds of OK Food Inc. breaded chicken products fall under the recall, according to a notice issued Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The chicken was sold under various brand names, including Wal-Mart’s Great Value store brand. The products were also sold to institutions across the country.  >> See the full list of recalled OK Food Inc. chicken products The affected chicken products have establishment No. P-7092 in the USDA mark of inspection. The recall comes after five people complained of finding metal in OK Food Inc.’s chicken. Personnel with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service also found metal in the products. OK Food Inc. determined that the food was tainted by metal from a conveyor belt. No injuries or illnesses have been reported.
  • A Texas woman is recovering after a life-threatening ordeal in the Arizona desert. Texas college student Amber VanHecke, 24, ran out of gas on a sightseeing trip to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon on March 12. >> Read more trending news She was traveling by herself and told ABC News that she made a wrong turn based on directions from her GPS. She ended up in the middle of nowhere and making matters worse she couldn’t get cellphone reception.  But she was prepared because she had traveled alone before. 'I planned out my itinerary, had it posted on Facebook and stuff and off I went with some non-perishables and water,' ABC News reported. As one day turned into two, she started writing messages on notebook paper and created a “help” sign out of rocks. It wasn’t until the fourth day that she decided to start walking to try and get a signal for her cellphone. She managed to talk to a 911 operator briefly before she lost the call, but it was long enough.  An air rescue crew from the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office was sent to look for her. The crew found her car and a note she had left explaining that she had started walking east, media outlets reported. They also spotted her “help” sign from the air. They eventually located her based on all the clues she left behind. The Arizona Department of Public Safety said in a statement Wednesday on its website that VanHecke had run out of food and was almost out of water when she was found on March 17, five days after her ordeal began. 'When she left the vehicle, she left notes so we knew where to find her. She did everything right,' trooper paramedic Eddie Bissonette said. 'She was treated at the scene for exposure, placed in the helicopter, and transported to the trauma center in Flagstaff,' according to the statement. VanHecke managed to stay positive about the harrowing experience, posting about her ordeal on Facebook. “I must be Irish because the luck was definitely with me today to get found.”  

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