Current Watches and Warnings
Public Information Statement
Statement as of 7:00 AM EST on November 29, 2015
Governor Terry mcauliffe has declared the week of November 29 to
December 5... 2015 as winter preparedness week in Virginia.
The National Weather Service offices serving Virginia... in
cooperation with the Virginia department of emergency
management... will send public information statements each day
through Saturday. These statements will focus on different aspects
of winter weather in the mid Atlantic region... and preparedness
actions the public should take for the upcoming winter season.
... Winter forecast largely non-committal...
The winter of 2014-15 will be remembered for starting out mild and
relatively tranquil... then turning colder and snowier from mid
January into early March. While there were no major winter storms
during the winter... there were several winter weather
events... especially during February... that produced measurable
snowfall across the mid Atlantic region. These events included a
storm on February 16-17... around presidents day... that produced
several inches of snow. The biggest story from mid January to early
March was an extended period of very cold weather. February was
among the top 10 coldest for much of the mid Atlantic region... with
average temperatures in many areas being 8 to 10 degrees below
El Nino turned out not to be a significant factor in the 2014-15
winter season. This winter... however... a moderate to strong El Nino
will play a major role in the precipitation... and possibly the
temperature pattern across the U.S. El Nino is a Pacific Ocean
phenomena whereby sea surface temperatures along the Equator
between the West Coast of South America and the international
dateline are above average. A moderate or strong El Nino can have
significant short term impacts on the global weather climate.
The National Weather Service outlook for the 2015-16 winter
(december through february) calls for generally above normal
temperatures across the northeast U.S. And below normal temperatures
across the southern U.S. This temperature pattern is fairly typical
for an El Nino winter. Precipitation across the U.S. Is expected to
be above average across the southern part of the country... and much
of the U.S. East Coast... with average to above to below average
precipitation across the northern U.S. In the mid Atlantic
region... above normal precipitation and near to perhaps above normal
temperatures are forecast.
In addition... atmospheric features that could influence the upcoming
winter are the North Atlantic oscillation (nao) and the Pacific-
North America index (pna). These features affect the amount of cold
air available... and the movement of coastal weather systems... and
are not predictable more than 2-3 weeks in advance. During the
Winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11... the nao was generally
negative... leading to colder than average temperatures.
Although the overall forecast may not be worrisome in comparison to
some recent Winters... preparation for potential winter storms is a
must. Everyone in the mid Atlantic region should be prepared for
occasional cold snaps and the possibility of at least one
significant winter storm this coming winter.
Below are some definitions of various winter precipitation
types... as well as information on NWS winter storm warnings and
advisories as they apply to Virginia.
... Winter precipitation terms...
... Freezing rain...
freezing rain is rain that falls and freezes to
a cold surface such as a Road or tree... causing a glaze of ice to
form. Freezing rain forms when snow falls through a warm layer above
the ground... melts to rain... then re-freezes upon reaching the
ground... where the air and ground-level objects are below freezing.
Freezing rain or "ice storms" can also knock down trees and power
lines... and severely hamper travel. Ice storms in February 1994 and
December 1998 left some areas of Virginia without power for a week.
sleet is rain that has re-frozen into ice pellets prior
to reaching the ground. Sleet forms in a similar manner to freezing
rain. However... the layer of cold air near the ground is thick
enough to allow the rain drops to re-freeze before reaching the
ground. Sleet will bounce when it strikes a hard surface. Sleet can
accumulate like snow and make a Road slick... but it is not as
hazardous as freezing rain.
a blizzard occurs when winds 35 mph or greater
combine with falling or blowing snow to reduce visibility to or
below one-quarter mile for three hours or more causing white-out
conditions. Wind chill temperatures are often near or below zero in
a blizzard. People out in blizzards can quickly become disoriented
from the cold... snow and wind... and lose their way when only several
yards from their home or car.
the term flurries refers to very light snow or snow
that occurs for a short period of time only causing a light dusting
... Wind chill...
wind chill temperature is the "feel-like"
temperature denoting the combined effect of wind and temperature on
people and animals. Wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss
from exposed skin. Wearing layers of clothing will help retain your
body heat and combat wind chill. Once wind chill temperatures drop
below -20 degrees f... exposed flesh can freeze in 30 minutes or
less... causing frost bite.
... Winter weather warnings and advisories - what do they mean?...
forecasts for winter weather issued by the National Weather Service
often include watches... warnings and advisories designed to inform
the public of the potential severity of a given weather situation.
Understanding these messages can guide you to making the proper
preparations for an upcoming weather event. Here is a list of some
of the advisories... watches and warnings issued by the National
Weather Service... and what they mean in terms of expected weather
... Watches and warnings...
Watches and warnings are issued by the National Weather Service for
potentially life-theatening conditions regardless of the time of
year. In winter... watches and warnings are most often issued for
significant snow and/or ice storms... but may be issued for extremely
cold wind chill temperatures... flooding... and possibly even severe
thunderstorms. Below are a list of winter weather watches and
A Winter Storm Watch is issued when the following weather conditions
are possible within 24 to 48 hours: at least 3 to 7 inches of snow
and/or ice accumulations of 1/4 inch or more than a 12 to 24 hour
A Winter Storm Warning is issued when the watch conditions described
above are either imminent or likely within 24 hours.
A Blizzard Warning is issued when strong winds combine with falling
and/or blowing snow to reduce visibility to one quarter mile or less
for at least 3 hours. Deep snow drifts and dangerously low wind
chills often accompany blizzard conditions.
A wind chill warning is issued when wind chill temperatures... the
combined effect of wind and temperature on exposed skin... are
forecast to reach 20 degrees below zero or colder.
weather advisories are issued for hazardous... but
not necessarily life-threatening conditions.
A freezing rain/Freezing Drizzle Advisory is issued when freezing
rain or freezing drizzle will produce hazardous conditions for
motorists and pedestrians.
A Wind Chill Advisory is issued when wind chill temperatures... the
apparent temperature resulting from the combination of wind and cold
temperatures... ranging between 5 degrees below zero and 20 degrees
below zero. Although wind chill values in this range are only life
threatening when skin is exposed for more than one hour... not taking
necessary precautions to protect one from the cold could result in
A Winter Weather Advisory is issued when a combination of
snow... sleet... or freezing rain will cause significant inconvenience
and hazardous driving conditions.
Winter storms are deceptive killers because most deaths are
indirectly related to the storm. Examples are traffic accident due
to icy roads... heart attacks while shoveling snow... or deaths due to
prolonged exposure to the cold. The advisories... watches and
warnings listed above are issued to help you prepare for upcoming
winter weather and take appropriate action to protect yourself and
Whatever weather this winter brings... the Virginia department of
emergency management and the National Weather Service want you to be
prepared for the season ahead. The statements which will be sent
this week are designed to assist in that preparation. Being prepared
means having the necessary information to make the right decisions.
Weather forecasts play a large role in this decision making process.
The National Weather Service recommends that you regularly tune to
NOAA Weather Radio or you local radio and television stations to
stay abreast of weather conditions this winter.
Additional information on winter weather preparedness can be
obtained on-line through the Virginia department of emergency
management home Page at:
up-to-date weather information is also available from the National
Weather Service in Blacksburg at: www.Weather.Gov/Blacksburg.
- Alabama - Dense Fog Advisory
- Alaska - Winter Storm Warning , Record Report
- Arizona - Freeze Watch
- Arkansas - Flood Warning , Areal Flood Warning , Flash Flood Watch , Flood Advisory , Flash Flood Watch, Flood Advisory , Hydrologic Statement, Special Statement , Special Statement , Record Report
- California - High Surf Advisory , Freeze Warning , Frost Advisory , Freeze Warning, Freeze Watch , Hard Freeze Warning , Special Statement , Record Report
- Colorado - Winter Weather Advisory , Dense Fog Advisory , Special Statement , Public Information Statement
- Delaware - Record Report
- Florida - Coastal Hazard Statement , Dense Fog Advisory , Beach Hazard Statement
- Georgia - Flood Warning , Coastal Hazard Statement , Public Information Statement
- Hawaii - High Surf Advisory , Wind Advisory
- Idaho - Air Stagnation Advisory , Record Report
- Illinois - Flood Warning , Flood Advisory , Special Statement
- Iowa - Flood Warning , Winter Storm Watch , Winter Weather Statement , Winter Weather Advisory , Record Report
- Kansas - Areal Flood Warning , Winter Weather Advisory , Ice Storm Warning , Winter Weather Statement , Freezing Rain Advisory , Winter Storm Warning , Special Statement , Public Information Statement
- Kentucky - Record Report
- Louisiana - Flood Warning , Hydrologic Statement, Special Statement , Special Statement
- Maryland - Record Report
- Minnesota - Winter Storm Watch , Special Statement , Record Report
- Mississippi - Flood Warning , Dense Fog Advisory , Record Report
- Missouri - Flood Warning , Areal Flood Warning , Freezing Rain Advisory , Record Report
- Nebraska - Winter Storm Watch , Winter Weather Statement , Winter Weather Advisory , Special Statement , Record Report , Public Information Statement
- Nevada - Record Report
- New Jersey - Record Report
- New Mexico - Freezing Fog Advisory , Dense Fog Advisory , Special Statement
- North Carolina - Flood Warning , Flood Advisory , Public Information Statement
- North Dakota - Special Statement
- Oklahoma - Flood Warning , Flood Warning, Areal Flood Warning , Areal Flood Warning , Flash Flood Watch , Freezing Fog Advisory , Winter Weather Advisory , Special Statement
- Oregon - Freeze Warning, Frost Advisory , Record Report
- Pennsylvania - Record Report
- Puerto Rico - Coastal Hazard Statement , High Surf Advisory, Coastal Hazard Statement
- South Carolina - Flood Warning , Public Information Statement
- South Dakota - Winter Storm Watch , Record Report
- Tennessee - Flood Warning , Record Report
- Texas - Flood Warning , Flash Flood Watch , Freezing Fog Advisory , Dense Fog Advisory , Special Statement , Record Report
- Virgin Islands - Coastal Hazard Statement , High Surf Advisory, Coastal Hazard Statement
- Virginia - Public Information Statement
- Washington - Air Stagnation Advisory , Record Report
- West Virginia - Public Information Statement
- Wisconsin - Special Statement
- Wyoming - Special Statement , Record Report