As more snow blows through Berkshire County this weekend, we’re under another winter storm warning on Saturday (3/12/22).

And, as we move through the winter season here in Berkshire County, warnings are only one type of weather terminology we tend to hear about.  The other types are watches and advisories.  So, what’s the difference between a watch, a warning, and an advisory, when it comes to winter weather?

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A winter storm watch happens when meteorologists see a potential storm coming.  In addition, this potential storm would qualify for a winter storm warning.  To put it simply, if forecasters see just a couple inches of snow coming in the next few days, they won’t issue a watch.  But if forecasters see at least five inches of snow coming, that’s when they’ll generally issue it.  Likewise, a wind-chill watch will go into effect if wind-chills are expected to be at -25 degrees fahrenheit or colder.

Snow covered sidewalk in front of home during winter snowfall

A winter storm warning happens when a storm will definitely be showing up, sometime in the next 12 to 36 hours.  That storm also must have heavy snow, sleet, wind, or some combination.  That storm will leave 7 inches of snow in half a day, or 9 inches of snow in twenty-four hours.  A blizzard warning is slightly different, in that really high winds of 35mph or more will continually gust and reduced visibility to a quarter mile for at least three hours.  That’s why we rarely see a blizzard warning, as opposed to a winter storm warnings.

Finally, a winter weather advisory is issued when a winter storm will definitely be showing up, but it won’t be a severe storm.  For example, an advisory might be issued if 3 inches of snow, and some light freezing rain mixed in will occur.

I hope that clears up the difference between watches, warnings, and advisories, and you can follow this link if you’d like a more detailed explanation:  National Weather Service Expanded Winter Weather Terminology


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