It is important to monitor weather sources to be informed when a winter storm is possible and to be familiar with the terms used to describe the likelihood, immediacy, and conditions of a potential storm. The box below provides information on the types of winter storm watches and warnings.
Winter storm watch: Be alert, a storm is likely.
Winter weather advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists.
Frost/freeze warning: Below freezing temperatures are expected and may cause damage to plants, crops, or fruit trees.
Winter storm warning: Take action, the storm is in or entering the area.
Blizzard warning: Snow and strong winds combined will produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill--seek refuge immediately.
Wind chill: Wind chill is an estimation of how cold it feels outside when the effects of temperature and wind speed are combined.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides multiple ways to stay informed about winter storms.
NOAA Weather Radio is a network of radio stations that continuously broadcast weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office. The NOAAWatch website also provides information on the weather outlook.
If you are notified of a winter storm watch, advisory or warning, follow instructions from your local authorities.
Preparing your vehicle for the winter season
If you must drive during a winter storm, it is important to prepare your vehicle to reduce the chances of a weather-related incident and to prepare an emergency kit.
During the winter season, it is advisable to maintain at least a half tank of gas in the vehicle. Inspect the vehicle to ensure the following systems are operating properly:
Also carry an emergency kit in the vehicle with the following items:
For more information, see the National Safety Council's Winter, Your Car and You [45 KB PDF, 2 pages]. (2009, April).
Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.