Winter Weather Terminology

POSTED: 11:13 PM MST Dec 31, 2013 
December 31, 2013 -

It is officially winter across the country. Winter runs from December 21 through March 20th. This is a good time to go over some winter weather terminology that we tend to throw out from time to time. Many of these definitions are courtesy of the National Weather Service.

Snow Flurries:

Flurries are defined as light snow falling for short durations. There is little to no accumulation. The most accumulation that can be expected is a light snow dusting.

Snow Showers:

When snow is falling at varying intensities for brief periods of time, we call is snow showers. Some accumulation is possible, but not guaranteed.

Snow Squalls:

Often, brief but intense snow showers will be accompanied by strong, gusty winds. These are referred to as snow squalls. Accumulation may be significant. Snow squalls are best known in the Great Lakes regions.

Blowing Snow:

Often, brief but intense snow showers will be accompanied by strong, gusty winds. These are referred to as snow squalls. Accumulation may be significant. Snow squalls are best known in the Great Lakes regions.

Blizzards:

With winds over 35 mph, blizzards are the most hazardous of the winter storms. Visibility is often near zero and everyone is encouraged to stay in a safe and secure location during a blizzard. Driving is especially discouraged as motorists can easily be stranded.

Ice Storms:

One other type of dangerous winter storm condition is the ice storm. Ice storms are often to blame for multiple deaths in many regions of the world due to the loss of power experienced during an ice storm. For more details on ice storm, visit the ice storm tutorial. Ice storms can accompany any of the other types of winter precipitation.

Sleet:

Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground are called sleet storms. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. Accumulation can cause road conditions to become hazardous, so beware.

Freezing Rain:

When liquid precipitation comes in contact with a surface that is at or below freezing, the liquid becomes solid ice. Surfaces such as trees, cars, and roads often get a coating or glaze of ice that accumulates on the surface. Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard due to the slippery conditions. The weight of the solid ice on powerlines is also a significant hazard.