DISCUSSION: Although millions of people both across the United States and around the world may feel like they just enjoyed following and are only starting to get used to the month of November, there are already definitive signs that winter is quickly bearing down on us already. With a storm system expected to deliver the first legitimate round of winter weather impacts later this week, it goes without saying that there are preparations that all people need to make both physically and mentally as we get closer and closer to the 2018-2019 Winter season.
One such preparation from a mental perspective that everyone needs to make is to understand the array of winter weather advisories that may get issue during this or any future Winter-time seasons. Many of us are accustomed to bearing witness to the issuance of the more conventional winter weather statements which include (but are certainly not limited to) winter weather advisories, ice storm watches, ice storm warnings, lake effect snow watches, lake effect snow warnings winter storm watches, winter storm warnings, blizzard watches, and blizzard warnings just to name some of the many. Having said that, year in and year out the National Weather Service network always strives to improve the ways in which weather dangers and weather hazards are communicated from season to season. In that light, the National Weather Service has a new winter weather statement which will be issued (as needed) during the 2018-2019 Winter season. This new winter weather statement is going to be known as a snow squall warning.
This is a new but important change to the winter weather forecast process due to the unique nature of what snow squalls physically are and represent in the context of winter weather hazards. Snow squalls are best defined as short-lived bursts of heavy snowfall that result in the rapid onset of near-zero visibilities and are often accompanied by gusty winds per the definition from the National Weather Service headquarters office. Moreover, the criteria for the issuance of such warnings will a combination of two individual factors. The first criterion is visibilities drop down to ¼ mile or less with falling snow as well as gusty winds combined with sub-freezing road temperatures. The second criterion is the threshold for situations in which temperatures drop behind a cold front and produce gusty winds that blow snow off the ground.
Another essential component to being able to effectively and timely issues such warnings from various National Weather Service offices is the advent of high-resolution satellite imagery products from satellite imagers such as the GOES-East satellite imager. Attached here is an article courtesy of the NOAA NESDIS Research Division office which provides more information on how this works in an operational setting.
Thus, when you head for various plans and trips this coming Winter season, always be aware of the upcoming forecast and be sure to remain prepared for anything which may come your way.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz