Project Winter: Understand the Different Winter Weather Warnings

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 9:47 AM CST
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - Meteorological Winter has officially begun. With the changing season comes more snow in the forecast. We will also see weather warnings which have not been seen since early this year.

We often associate the winter season with colder temperatures and snow, but the Heart of Illinois is no stranger to other forms of wintry precipitation. From freezing rain to sleet, winter weather poses unique threats throughout the forecast. The changing weather also means we’ll see set warnings we haven’t seen since last winter.

When snow is in the forecast, we often see winter weather advisories or winter storm warnings.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Ed Shimon said it all comes down to how much snow we’re expecting. “The more frequent events what we issue is a winter weather advisory. usually for snowfall in the 3 to 5 inch range,” said Shimon.

For more extreme snow events, a winter storm warning is typically issued. “We’re seeing about 6 inches of snow in twelve hours,” said Shimon.

There is also a new type of winter warning not yet seen across the region. Known as a snow squall warning, these intense periods of heavy snowfall can be compared to a summertime severe thunderstorm in terms of intensity.

“They’re an actual polygon, a box, or a four sided warning. we issue those in 30 to 60 minute time frames. so it’s a real short notice. there’s an intense snow squall coming in,” said Shimon.

While not common in our area, you still should prepare for snow squalls.

Not only are they uncommon, the warnings are also new. Only becoming an official warning last year, Shimon said drivers can be caught off guard if not aware.

“A quarter mile visibility in conjunction with temperatures below freezing where the roads are immediately going to impacted through the significant intense snowfall that’s going to be coming. it causes massive pileups of cars and potential loss of life when that happens,” said Shimon.

As such conditions become more likely over the upcoming months, Shimon said it’s important to stay weather aware. “If you’re going to be going out soon or if you are actually on the road, find a place to get off to road for a little bit,” said Shimon.

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