A winter storm occurs when there is significant precipitation and the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, causing sleet, snow, or ice. A winter storm can range from freezing rain and ice, moderate snowfall over a few hours, or a blizzard that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures. Winter storms and colder than normal temperatures can happen in every region of the country. Winter storms can occur from early autumn to late spring depending on the region.
A Winter Storm Warning is issued when a significant combination of hazardous winter weather is occurring or imminent. Significant and hazardous winter weather is defined as a combination of:
- 5 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 12-hour period or 7 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 24-hour period
- Enough ice accumulation to cause damage to trees or powerlines
- A life threatening or damaging combination of snow and/or ice accumulation with wind
Winter storms can cause power outages that last for days. They may make roads and walkways extremely dangerous or impassable. Critical community services such as public transportation, child care, health programs, and schools may be limited or closed. Injuries and deaths may occur from exposure, dangerous road conditions, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other conditions.
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