With 5-10 inches of snow on the way for Flagstaff, and more for other areas, what the heck do all the National Weather Service’s key words and catchy phrases mean.
Advisories mean, “Hey, there’s something you should probably keep in the back of your mind as you plan your activities.” From a kid’s point of view, a Winter Weather Advisory can mean you will most likely see snow, and have to go to school.
Watches mean, “Hold-on there, there’s a chance of some serious hazards possible over the next two days. You should consider changing your plans.” From a kid’s point of view, a Winter Storm Watch means there’s a good chance you won’t have school in a few days. It’s not sure enough to where you shouldn’t get your homework done and study for your test.
Warnings mean, “Stop, change your plans. There will probably be serious impacts from the weather.” From a kid’s point of view, a Winter Storm Warning means it’s almost positive that you won’t be going to school, but not guaranteed. Only shoveling snow will get you out of homework. The more snow you shovel, the less homework you have to do.
Okay, on the serious side, from the National Weather Service’s NWS Reference Guide:
- Winter Weather Advisory – Snow and/or sleet and ice accumulations causing an inconvenience to society and commerce are imminent or occurring. (Specific criteria varies greatly per region.)
- Winter Storm Watch – Possibility of accumulating snow, sleet and/or freezing rain causing severe impacts to society and commerce.
- Winter Storm Warning – Heavy snow and/or sleet and ice accumulations are imminent or occurring. Society and commerce are expected to be greatly impacted. Precipitation may be accompanied by gusty wind. (Specific criteria vary by region)
Maybe that wasn’t clear. I looked at the NWS-Flagstaff site and couldn’t easily find their definitions for trigger points, such as 2-4 inches of snow for the Winter Weather Advisory.
Flagstaff is under a Winter Weather Advisory. I recommend full school preparedness for Monday.
From the National Weather Service in Flagstaff:
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FLAGSTAFF AZ
1052 PM MST SAT NOV 26 2016
KAIBAB PLATEAU-GRAND CANYON COUNTRY-COCONINO PLATEAU-
YAVAPAI COUNTY MOUNTAINS-WESTERN MOGOLLON RIM-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...JACOB LAKE...GRAND CANYON VILLAGE...
1052 PM MST SAT NOV 26 2016
...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON SUNDAY TO
MIDNIGHT MST SUNDAY NIGHT FOR ELEVATIONS ABOVE 5500 FEET...
* TIMING...SNOW LEVELS WILL FALL AFTER MIDNIGHT AS SHOWERS
DEVELOP ACROSS THE AREA...WITH MOSTLY SNOW ABOVE 6500 FEET BY
EARLY SUNDAY MORNING. SHOWER ACTIVITY WILL DECREASE SUNDAY
MORNING...BEFORE INCREASING AGAIN SUNDAY AFTERNOON. A PERIOD OF
STEADIER AND HEAVIER SNOW WITH DROPPING SNOW LEVELS WILL THEN
DEVELOP SUNDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH SUNDAY EVENING.
* GENERAL EVENT TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS...1 TO 4 INCHES OF SNOW
BETWEEN 5500 FEET AND 6500 FEET AND 3 TO 6 INCHES OF SNOW
ABOVE 6500 FEET. SEE DETAILS BELOW OR CONSULT POINT SPECIFIC
FORECAST AT: WEATHER.GOV/FLAGSTAFF.
* SNOWFALL FORECAST FROM NOON MST SUNDAY UNTIL 12 AM MST
DONEY PARK 2 TO 4 INCHES FLAGSTAFF 3 TO 5 INCHES
GRAND CANYON 1 TO 3 INCHES JACOB LAKE 1 TO 3 INCHES
NORTH RIM 2 TO 4 INCHES PRESCOTT 1 TO 2 INCHES
SELIGMAN 1 TO 2 INCHES VALLE 1 TO 2 INCHES
WILLIAMS 3 TO 5 INCHES
A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW MEANS THAT PERIODS OF FALLING
SNOW WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SLIPPERY
ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES.
PLAN EXTRA TIME FOR TRAVEL...AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING. FOR
THE LATEST ROAD CONDITIONS AND CLOSURES...CALL THE ADOT FREEWAY
MANAGEMENT SYSTEM AT 1 888 411 7623 OR VISIT THEIR WEB SITE AT
ADDITIONAL WEATHER INFORMATION IS ON THE WEB AT