Update: The Winter by Degrees webinar from Baron Weather is now available here.
This week, I’ll be featuring a series on winter weather safety blog posts on my WeatherTogether blog. In Part 1 of this series, we’re going to take a look at some resources for winter weather training, as well as some ways in which you can report winter weather conditions in your area.
One of the best places you can find winter weather safety training is from the National Weather Service WRN website. WeatherTogether is a member of the NWS WRN (WeatherReady Nation) program as an ambassador, and we are pleased to share informative winter weather safety training from the NWS with readers of our blog. Some of the training content used in this series will come from this beneficial website.
For those interested in learning more about the 2017-2018 winter weather season, check out this 2017-2018 Winter Weather Outlook from the meteorologist team at Earth Networks, a company I am pleased to handle IT consulting for. The team presents an excellent overview of the current winter weather season and shows viewers what to expect for our winter.
Another excellent training resource for winter weather safety, especially for those involved in public safety, check out the free Winter by Degrees eBook from the meteorologists at Baron Weather. I use Baron Threat Net to power many of my storm tracking and weather graphics on my WeatherTogether blog and on social media, and the eBook offers some valuable information concerning winter weather safety across each of the major regions in the US. There is also a companion Winter by Degrees webinar recording I am working on getting a copy of from Baron to share on here.
One question our readers generally have during winter weather is, while everyone understands the basic concept of snow, some are a little confused in terms of what exactly is freezing rain, sleet, and wind chill. Here are a few definitions from the National Weather Service concerning these important terms to know during winter weather:
- Freezing Rain: Rain that freezes when it hits the ground; creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
- Sleet: Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
- Wind Chill: A measure of how cold people feel due to the combined effect of wind and cold temperatures; the Wind chill Index is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin. Both cold temperatures and wind remove heat from the body; as the wind speed increases during cold conditions, a body loses heat more quickly. Eventually, the internal body temperature also falls and hypothermia can develop. Animals also feel the effects of wind chill; but inanimate objects, such as vehicles and buildings, do not. They will only cool to the actual air temperature, although much faster during windy conditions. Read how the Wind Chill Index was developed.
This presentation from the National Weather Service also goes into details concerning the hazards of winter weather and is a beneficial read as well. I also recommend reading these two articles that explain how to prepare for winter weather Before the Storm as well as how to handle winter weather During the Storm.
Another question our readers generally have during winter weather is, what is the difference between the major types of winter weather watches, warnings, and advisories as issued by the National Weather Service? Here are the official definitions from the National Weather Service concerning the different major types of winter weather advisories that occur:
- Winter Storm Watch: A watch means that severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow or ice, may affect your area, but where, when and how much is still uncertain. NWS issues a watch to provide 12 to 36 hours notice of possible severe winter weather. A watch is intended to provide enough lead time for you to prepare.
- Winter Storm Warning NWS issues a warning when its scientists forecast 4 or more inches of snow or sleet in the next 12 hours, 6 or more inches in 24 hours, or 1/4 inch or more of ice accretion.
- Winter Weather Advisories inform you that winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If caution is exercised, advisory situations should not become life-threatening.
- Blizzard Warning let you know that snow and strong winds will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill.
In terms of reporting winter weather conditions in your area, there are a few ways in which you can assist the NWS, weather organizations, and us during winter weather. First of all, if you’re interested in starting your own weather blog on here as a contributing blogger on WeatherTogether, we’d love to have you join, and it’s free and easy to join. You can also share winter weather reports with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages (you’re also welcome to share winter weather reports on my Twitter page). I also recommend sharing winter weather reports with your local television meteorologists on their social media pages.
Another excellent place to report winter weather conditions, especially snow depth or freeing precipitation amounts, is CoCoRaHS. CoCoRaHS offers an excellent training page on how to report winter conditions to them, and they’re grateful for any regular winter reports they can receive in addition to daily rainfall reports.
One of the most beneficial places to report winter conditions to is mPING. mPING is a crowd-sourced weather reporting tool the NWS uses to verify on the ground what the NWS is seeing on radar, which helps improve their forecasting. This is especially beneficial during winter weather. Users can either download the free mPING app in order to report weather conditions or use the RadarScope app to send in mPING reports (which also doubles as a super-handy weather radar app).
Additionally, spotters who have been trained in the official NWS SKYWARN or the private-sector nonprofit Spotter Network program can also report winter conditions to these two spotter programs. SKYWARN is a part of the NWS and allows a trained spotter to relay reports directly to the NWS. Spotter Network is a nonprofit program also heavily used by trained storm spotters to relay severe weather reports, in which they also receive winter weather reports.
That wraps it up here! Nathan Parker signing off.