Weather Study Guide: Winter Storms

Photo Credit: Anthony Quintano / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

For a printable illustrated PDF of this study guide, click here.

In order for winter storms to develop, you need cold air, moisture, and lift. The lift can come from the passing of fronts.

If cold air pushes away the warm air, it forms a cold front. If warm air rises over the cold air, it forms a warm front.

Snowflakes are made up of as many as 200 ice crystals. The more crystals, the heavier the flake. When the flake becomes too heavy, it falls to the ground.

Storm Watch:
FOX 11 will alert you to approaching severe winter weather by going on “Storm Watch.” That means the meteorologists are watching a developing storm that may bring snow and/or ice to the area and impact you.

The National Weather Service issues these alerts for winter weather events:

Winter Weather Advisory: Issued in advance of events that may cause significant inconvenience but are not life-threatening.

Winter Storm Watch: Issued when there is a possibility for severe winter weather in 12 to 48 hours.

Winter Storm Warning: Issued in advance of events that may have a significant impact in the area; factors include 6” of snow in 12 hours or 8” in 24 hours.

Blizzard Warning: When forecast calls for sustained winds or frequent gusts near 35 mph and considerable falling and/or blowing snow which cuts down visibility to a quarter mile or less for 3 hours or more.

Winter Storm Diagram:

FOX 11 has been naming winter storms for more than 25 years! The storms are named after popular girl and boy names, and rotate year to year. In order for a winter storm to be named it needs to make a significant impact on most of the area. That means at least 5 inches of snow in 24 hours, as well as blowing and drifting snow, amid other factors.

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