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What does a Winter Storm Watch, Warning or Advisory mean?

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When winter weather impacts our area, the National Weather Service issues several types of alerts. These include winter storm watches, warnings and advisories.

All three of these alerts warn you of snow or ice that could impact your commute or cause power outages. The difference between the three is related to the confidence in the forecast and how far out the storm is.

A Winter Storm Watch is issued 48 hours before a storm is expected. With a watch, confidence is medium. In other words, snow is possible.

At 36 hours, the Watch can be upgraded to a Winter Weather Advisory or a Winter Storm Warning. A Winter Storm Warning is issued at 36 hours before an event- when confidence has increased to a level in which forecasters believe the amount of snow they're predicting will occur. Warnigns are issued for storms which are expected to bring significant amounts of snow and ice, making travel dangerous or impossible.

A Winter Weather Advisory is issued when snow is still expected, but only expected to cause some hazardous travel conditions.

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