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The Difference between Winter Storms and Blizzards

Often times we are asked what the difference is between a winter storm and a blizzard, what truly is the difference maker, and in fact, there are several key components. Please see below for the types of advisories/ watches and warnings.

Winter Storm Advisory– They can be issued for one or more of the following reasons : 3-5 inches of snow in a 12 hour period, more than 1/2 inch of sleet expected, freezing rain risk with sleet/snow and/ or blowing snow.

Winter Storm Watch– Conditions are favorable for 6 + inches of snow.

Winter Storm Warning– Heavy snow of 6 inches or more in a 12 hour period is likely OR sleet of 1/2 inches or more.

Freezing Rain Advisory– This is for ice accumulation less than 1/4 of an inch.

Ice Storm Warning – This is issued when ice accumulation is thought to exceed 1/4 of an inch.

Blizzard Watch– Conditions are favorable for low visibility ( less than 1/4 mile) with winds needing to be at least 35 mph.

Blizzard Warning– Conditions are imminent with low visibility ( less than 1/4 mile) with winds at least 35 mph for at least 3 hours.

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