Winter Weather Handbook: Snow Squalls

Winter Weather Handbook

(WBRE/WYOU) — Weather watches and warnings can be confusing. With numerous types, there are several you should know for winter.

“In Pennsylvania, winter storm watch or warnings will be issued for the potential of at least six inches of snow in a 12-hour period. Or eight inches of snow in a 24-hour period. Now that’s a guideline, I have to say. There are other factors in the winter storm it is not just the amount of snow,” NWS Binghamton Meteorologist Mark Pellerito said.

Some factors such as precipitation type are key.

Pellerito notes, “Heavy wet snow, snow with sleet can be very impactful. Even if it’ five or four inches, whereas seven inches of very fluffy light snow, maybe that’s not so impactful. Add some wind to that and you have an impact again.” 

While tornados and severe southeast storms often get a lot of attention they aren’t the only danger. 

“What kills more people on an average year more than 800 people a year. It’s winter vehicle accidents,” Pellerito said. “What causes more accidents more often is the small stuff. It’s the one inch of snow that people aren’t expecting.”

One way the National Weather Service is hoping to reduce these accidents is by issuing snow squall warnings. 

“When we are expecting visibility to drop way below a quarter-mile, whiteout conditions very sudden change. It’s kind of like a summertime downpour except it’s all snow,” Pellerito explains.

Snow squalls often come on quickly, but weather messages for them should go to your phone if you lie in the path of one.

“In your own vehicle, you cannot control what other people are doing. In the case of a snow squall, you may run into a completely uncontrollable situation,” Pellerito said.

Perllerito says that if you see a snow squall warning issued, to just wait a few minutes for it to pass and if you’re on the road to pull over safely if possible.

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