Watches, warnings, advisories and more. What does this terminology really mean when trying to figure out how to dress and whether or not to travel this winter?

While they seem complicated to anyone except a meteorologist, learning what the various statements mean is actually pretty easy.

As a part of Winter Preparedness Week in Colorado, the National Weather Service has condensed winter weather terms to make them simpler to understand.

  • Hazardous Weather Outlook - This is used when there is the potential for storms and can be issued up to 7 days in advance.
  • Winter Storm Watch - Alerts people about possible storms in the next 3-4 days but it's unclear about the severity of those storms.
  • Winter Weather Advisory - This is used to alert people a mild winter storm is close or already beginning.
  • Winter Storm Warning - This alert, typically given 1-2 days in advance, warns people of potentially life-threatening weather including heavy snowfall. This may be accompanied with a High Wind Warning which means blowing and drifting snow is possible.
  • Blizzard Warning - Heavy snowfall and strong winds expected to last 3 hours or more. Visibility is very limited. Travel of any kind is not advised.

With these most common winter weather-related terms defined, you can earn the reputation of a weather geek or better yet know how to prepare for the different winter weather conditions.

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