You are on page 1of 5

ODWA

10 December 2013 Definitions

Janeski, Nicholas

Basic Definitions:
The National Weather Service issues a variety of products to keep our customers informed of unusual, inconvenient and hazardous weather conditions. A multi-tier concept is employed to accomplish this task with Outlooks, Watches, Warnings and Advisories to point out specific conditions. Outlook: Used to give considerable lead time that a hazardous event may develop. Watch: Issued when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set their plans in motion can do so. Warning: Issued when a hazardous event is occurring or has a very high probability of occurrence. Warnings advise of a threat to life or property. Advisory: Issued when a hazardous event is occurring or has a very high probability of occurrence. Advisories describe events that cause significant inconvenience.

Convective Definitions
Tornado Watch The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issues Public Tornado Watches to alert the public, media and emergency managers to organized thunderstorms forecast to produce three or more tornadoes or any tornado which could produce F2 or greater damage. The forecast event minimum thresholds should be at least 2 hours over an area of at least 8,000 square miles. Severe Thunderstorm Watch The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issues Public Severe Thunderstorm Watches to alert the public, media and emergency managers to organized thunderstorms forecast to produce six and more hail events of 1 inch (quarter) diameter or greater, or damaging winds of 50 knots (58 mph) or greater. The forecast event minimum thresholds should be at least 2 hours over an area of at least 8,000 square miles. Tornado Warning Tornado Warnings are issued when there is radar indication and/or reliable spotter reports of a tornado. Severe Thunderstorm Warning Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are issued when there is radar indication and/or reliable spotter reports of hail of 1 inch (quarter) diameter or greater, and/or wind gusts of 50 knots (58 mph) or greater.

Hydrology/Flooding Definitions
Flood Watch Flood watches inform the public of hydrometeorological conditions which may cause flooding when the flooding is neither certain nor imminent. Flood watches may cover states, counties, rivers, portions of states, portions of counties, or portions of rivers (e.g., one or more forecast points). Flood Watches provide advance notice and up-to-date information on the possibility of flooding within 36 hours. Flash Flood Warning

1

ODWA

10 December 2013

Janeski, Nicholas

Flash flood warnings are issued when flooding is imminent. This product will be reserved for those short-term events which require immediate action to protect lives and property, such as dangerous small stream flooding or urban flooding, and dam or levee failures. Flash flood warnings may cover counties, portions of counties, well-known geographical areas (e.g., deserts, valleys), or river basins. Flood Warning Flood warnings are issued for any high flow, overflow, or inundation not covered by flash flood warning products. There are two general types of flood warnings - areal flood warnings and river flood warnings issued for specific forecast points. Flood warnings for forecast points usually include information on the impacts of expected flooding at locations upstream and/or downstream from covered forecast point(s) on a river or stream. Areal flood warnings are issued for areas along rivers and streams not associated with a forecast point, or for counties or portions of counties (with the areas covered described in the same way as for flash flood warnings). Urban and/or Small Stream Advisories Flood statements issued to provide information on elevated river/stream flows or ponding of water in urban or other areas, when such events warrant notification of the public in a product less urgent than a warning. Lakeshore Flooding The inundation of land areas along any of the Great Lakes over and above normal lake levels. This flooding may impact the immediate lakefront, bays, and interfaces between the Great Lakes and connecting waterways, such as rivers.

Lakeshore flooding intensities range from minor water overflow, with little or no damage, to significant water overflow, with extensive inundation and severe beach erosion. Lakeshore flooding is highly dependent on local coastline topography and nearshore bathymetry. A "LAKESHORE FLOOD WATCH" informs the public lakeshore flooding is possible. A watch should be issued 12 to 36 hours in advance. A "LAKESHORE FLOOD WARNING" informs the public lakeshore flooding, posing a serious threat to life and property, is occurring, imminent, or highly likely in the next 12 hours.

Winter Weather Definitions
For watches and warnings: Blizzard Visibility frequently below 1/4 mile in falling or blowing snow, and wind speeds (sustained or frequent gusts) at least 35 mph. These conditions are expected to continue for 3 hours or longer. Winter Storm A snow accumulation of at least... 8 inches or more in 24 hours 7 inches or more in 18 hours 6 inches or more in 12 hours 5 inches or more in 6 hours Can be in combination with one of the following: rain, freezing rain, sleet, wind, blowing snow or cold (wind chill).

2

ODWA

10 December 2013

Janeski, Nicholas

(Note: lesser amount of snow can be forecast for mixed precipitation, blowing, etc.) Lake Effect Snow A pure lake effect snow event that is forecast to produce a snow accumulation of at least ...

   

8 inches or more in 24 hours 7 inches or more in 18 hours 6 inches or more in 12 hours 5 inches or more in 6 hours

(Note: lesser amount of snow can be forecast for mixed precipitation, blowing, etc.) Ice Storm A significant, and possibly damaging, accumulation of ice. Normally a coating of at least 1/4-inch, but may be up to 1/2-inch if winds are less than 15 mph. For warnings only: Wind Chill Wind chill values fall to -25°F or colder. For advisories: Winter Weather Advisories for...

Snow

Synoptic scale storm producing snow (average forecast range) of greater than 2 inches in 6 hours, or at least 4 inches but less than 6 inches in 12 hours, or at least 4 inches in 12 hours but less than 8 inches.

(Note: lesser amount of snow can be forecast for first snowfall, long duration between snow, etc.)

Snow and Blowing/Drifting Snow

Situations that cause significant inconveniences, and do not meet warning criteria. Sustained wind or frequent gusts of 25 to 34 mph accompanied by falling and blowing snow, occasionally reducing visibility to less than 1 mile for three hours or more. If caution is not exercised, this could lead to life-threatening situations.

Winter Weather

A synoptic scale storm producing a combination of winter weather that presents a hazard, and does not meet warning criteria. Snowfall in this case does not have to reach snow advisory criteria.

Blowing Snow

3

ODWA

10 December 2013

Janeski, Nicholas

Blowing snow reducing visibilities to 1 mile or less and winds less than 35 mph.

Sleet Advisory

Situations that cause significant inconveniences, and do not meet warning criteria. If caution is not used, this could lead to life-threatening situations. Ice accumulation causes driving or walking problems, but no damage to trees or power lines. Freezing Rain or Freezing Drizzle Situations that cause significant inconveniences, and do not meet warning criteria. If caution is not used, this could lead to life-threatening situations. Ice accumulation causes driving or walking problems, but no damage to trees or power lines. Lake Effect Snow Pure lake effect snow event that is forecast to produce snow (average of forecast range) of greater than 2 inches in 6 hours, or at least 4 inches but less than 6 inches in 12 hours, or at least 4 inches in 12 hours but less than 8 inches. Wind Chill Wind chill values drop between -15 and -24°F inclusive.

Non-Precipitation Definitions
For watches and warnings: High Wind Sustained non-convective winds greater than or equal to 40 mph lasting for one hour or longer, and/or gusts greater than or equal to 58 mph for any duration. Excessive Heat A heat index of 105°F or higher is expected for a period of 3 hours or more. An excessive heat warning shall be continued through the overnight hours, following a day with excessive heat, if the heat index is not expected to fall below "around 75°F". An excessive heat warning can be issued for a heat index less than 105°F when the cumulative effect of successive days of near warning heat leads to life threatening conditions. For warnings only: Freeze Freezing temperatures (shelter temperature 32°F or below) occurs during the growing season. For advisories: Dense Fog Widespread visibilities reduced to less than or equal to 1/4-mile in fog. Wind Sustained non-convective winds greater than or equal to 30 mph lasting for one hour or longer, or winds greater than or equal to 45 mph for any duration. Heat A heat index of 100°F or higher is expected for a period of 3 hours or more. A heat advisory shall be continued through the overnight hours, following a day with excessive heat, if the heat index is not expect to fall below "around 75°F". A heat advisory can be issued for a heat index less than 100°F when the cumulative effect of successive days of near advisory heat leads to potentially life threatening conditions.

4

ODWA
Frost

10 December 2013

Janeski, Nicholas

Conditions that would lead to frost formation during the growing season, but warmer than freezing conditions. Generally clear, calm night with shelter temperatures of 33 to 37°F.

Fire Weather Definitions
Fire Weather Watch Fire Weather Watches are issued anytime the area has been dry for a week or two (or for a shorter period during spring green-up or after fall color), the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) is high to extreme, and critical weather conditions are expected within the next 48 hours. These critical elements are:

  
Red Flag Warning

sustained winds averaging 15 mph or greater relative humidity 25 percent or less temperature 75°F or greater

Red Flag Warnings are issued anytime there is an ongoing wildfire, or critical weather conditions will occur within the next 24 hours. These conditions are:

  

sustained winds averaging 15 mph or greater relative humidity 25 percent or less temperature 75°F or greater

5