Like the terminology in many businesses, the words used among weather forecasters can be confusing. What is the difference between an ice storm warning and a winter weather warning?


Like the terminology in many businesses, the words used among weather forecasters can be confusing. What is the difference between an ice storm warning and a winter weather warning?

What triggers a blizzard warning?

Mary Knapp, who serves as the state climatologist for Kansas, provided definitions for several winter weather-related terms and phrases. Knapp directs the state’s Weather Data Library, based in K-State Research and Extension at Kansas State University.

• Winter storm watch — Possible heavy snow and/or significant accumulation of freezing rain/drizzle or sleet.

• Snow advisory — Worsening travel conditions with one to five inches of snow.

• Winter weather advisory — Combined snow with accumulations of freezing rain/drizzle or sleet.

• Freezing rain advisory — Travel problems are expected due to accumulated freezing rain. Damage to trees or power lines not expected.

• Sleet advisory — Accumulation of between one-quarter and one inch of sleet is expected.

• Winter storm warning — Combination of heavy snow, significant accumulations of freezing rain/drizzle or sleet and low wind chill.

• Heavy snow warning — Snowfall accumulation to six inches or more in 12 hours, or eight inches or more in 24 hours.

• Blizzard warning — Winds 35 plus miles per hour, considerable falling and/or blowing snow (visibilities frequently less than one quarter mile) for at least three hours.

• Ice storm warning — Significant, and possibly damaging, accumulations of ice. Wind is an important factor in powerline/tree line damage. With higher winds, breakage can occur with around one-quarter inch of accumulation.

Information about Kansas weather is available on the Weather Data Library Web site: www.ksre.ksu.edu/wdl/. “Weather Wonders” audio reports are available on the K-State Research and Extension News Media Web site at www.ksre.ksu

.edu/news/.