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WPC Probabilistic Winter Precipitation Guidance
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Arlington Heights [Near Heritage Park]
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Blizzard Warnings are issued for frequent gusts greater than or equal to 35 mph accompanied by falling and/or blowing snow, frequently reducing visibility to less than 1/4 mile for three hours or more. A Blizzard Warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities are likely, leading to whiteout conditions making travel extremely difficult. Do not travel. If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you. If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle and wait for help to arrive.
Winter Storm Warnings are issued for a significant winter weather event including snow, ice, sleet or blowing snow or a combination of these hazards. Travel will become difficult or impossible in some situations. Delay your travel plans until conditions improve.
Ice Storm Warnings are usually issued for ice accumulation of around 1/4 inch or more. This amount of ice accumulation will make travel dangerous or impossible and likely lead to snapped power lines and falling tree branches. Travel is strongly discouraged.
Wind Chill Warnings are issued for a combination of very cold air and strong winds that will create dangerously low wind chill values. This level of wind chill will result in frostbite and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken. Avoid going outdoors and wear warm protective clothing if you must venture outside. See the NWS Wind Chill Chart.
Lake Effect Snow Warnings are issued when widespread or localized lake induced snow squalls or heavy showers are expected to produce significant snowfall accumulation. Lake effect snow usually develops in narrow bands and impacts a limited area. These bands can produce very heavy snow with sudden restrictions in visibility. Driving conditions may become hazardous at times.
Ice Storm Warning
An Ice Storm Warning is issued when freezing precipitation is expected with 1/4 inch or more of ice accumulation.
Ice Storm Warnings are generally issued 12 to 24 hours prior to the expected start of the event. There are no Ice Storm Watches.
Freezing Rain Advisory
A Freezing Rain Advisory is issued when freezing precipitation is expected, however ice accumulations are anticipated to be less than 1/4 inch.
These are generally issued 12 to 24 hours prior to the expected start of the event. There are no Freezing Rain Watches or Warnings.
Winter Weather Advisory
Hazardous winter weather conditions are occurring, imminent or likely. Conditions will cause a significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, will result in a potential threat to life and/or property. The generic term, winter weather advisory, is used for a combination of two or more of the following events; snow, freezing rain or drizzle, sleet, blowing snow.
Sterling Virginia Example
A Winter Weather Advisory will be issued when 2 to 4 inches of snow, alone or in combination with sleet and freezing rain, is expected to cause a significant inconvenience, but not serious enough to warrant a warning.
In some cities, if the event is expected to impact the metro areas during rush hours (4-9 am or 2-7 pm on weekdays) forecasted snow totals of one inch will necessitate the issuance of a winter weather advisory.