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COLUMN: Pay attention to winter weather terminology

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By David Harrison

 It’s important to closely follow local weather forecasts and warnings and be familiar with seasonal weather terminology.

An all-hazards weather radio is one way to monitor severe winter weather notices. These radios broadcast National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24/7. Most of these radios can be programmed to receive weather alerts for a specific county or counties.

A winter weather advisory is issued when accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle and sleet cause significant inconvenience and moderately dangerous conditions. Freezing rain is rain that falls on a surface with a temperature at or below freezing. Sleet is raindrops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground.  

A winter storm outlook may be issued prior to a winter storm watch, usually 48 to 60 hours before a winter storm. The outlook can be issued when forecasters believe winter weather conditions are possible.

A winter storm watch alerts you to the possibility of a blizzard, heavy snow, freezing rain or sleet. It usually is given 12 to 36 hours before the beginning of the storm.

A winter storm warning is issued in anticipation of a combination of heavy snow, freezing rain or sleet. This warning usually is issued six to 24 hours before the weather is expected to begin.

A blizzard warning is given for sustained or gusty winds of 35 miles per hour or more, and falling or blowing snow that limits visibility to a one fourth mile or less for at least three hours.

With 24-hour weather channels, smart phones, television, Mesonet and Internet access, weather information is very available for the general public. UK has an excellent weather source at the UK Agricultural Weather Center at http://wwwagwx.ca.uky.edu. From this location you can click on Kentucky and then LaRue County to link to the LaRue County specific weather website.