Department of Public Safety

Winter Storms

Check out Winter Storms...The Underrated Killer - An excellent winter weather preparedness guide!

The President declared an emergency
for the unforgettable Blizzard of '99

Winter Weather Bulletins issued by the National Weather Service



Winter Storm Watch

A major snow and/or ice storm is developing and may arrive within 24 to 48 hours

Snow Advisory

3 to 6 inches of snow over a 12 hour period is expected soon or is occurring now

Blowing Snow Advisory

Blowing snow and reduced visibility can be expected soon or is occurring now

Winter Weather Advisory

A light to moderate mix of rain, snow, sleet and/or freezing rain can be expected 
soon or is occurring now

Winter Storm Warning

At least 6 inches of snow over a 12 hour period &/or significant amounts of 
freezing rain and gusty winds can be expected soon or is occurring now

Ice Storm Warning

1/4 inch or more of ice accumulation on exposed surfaces is expected soon or 
is occurring now

Heavy Snow Warning

At least 6 inches of snow over a 12 hour period in calm to light winds can be 
expected soon or is occurring now

Blizzard Warning

Snow with sustained winds of 35 miles per hour causing visibility frequently 
below 1/4 mile can be expected soon or is occurring now

The Importance of Wind Chill

During the winter months, it's not only the actual temperature that we worry about, but the wind chill temperature as well. The Wind Chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by the combined effects of wind and cold.  It is how cold the air feels to our skin. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate. The following is a chart that graphically correlates the properties of Air Temperature and Wind Speed.

Wind Chill Chart

Basic Automotive Winter Travel Equipment

Ice and snow scraper

Fire extinguisher

At least 1 extra jug of 
windshield washer fluid

Matches and paper towels 
in water proof container

Tow rope

Sand or cat litter

Tool kit

Flashlight and spare batteries

Booster cables

 Nonperishable high calorie food 

Road maps

Water container


First aid kit

    Blankets or sleeping bags 



Wind Speed Estimation (in MPH)
Wind Speed  Description


Smoke rises vertically


The direction of the wind is shown by smoke but not wind vanes


Wind is felt on the face, leaves rustle, wind vanes move


Leaves and small twigs are in motion, small flags are extended


Dust and loose paper is raised, small branches move 


Small leafy trees sway, crested wavelets form on lakes & ponds


Large branches are in motion, whistling is heard on power lines


Whole trees in motion, inconvenience in walking against wind


Twigs break off trees, difficult to walk against the wind


Minor structural damage such as chimneys and shingles


Damage to chimneys and antennas, shallow rooted trees uprooted


Roof surfaces peel, windows break, moving cars pushed off road


Roofs, weak buildings, mob. homes destroyed, lg. trees uprooted

[Red indicates severe thunderstorm criteria]

Hail Size Estimation
Size  Description

1/4 inch

Pea size

1/2 inch

Marble size

3/4 inch

Dime size

1 inch

Quarter size

1 3/4 inch

Golf ball size

2 3/4 inch

Baseball size

[Red indicates severe thunderstorm criteria]

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