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Winter Weather Preparedness Week: What’s the difference between a weather advisory and storm warning?

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DENVER (KDVR) — Now that fall is here, winter-like weather is not far behind. This week is Winter Weather Preparedness Week and it’s important to know the different types of advisories issued by the National Weather Service during winter storms.

The first is a winter storm watch. These are typically issued before the other warnings or advisories to give advanced notice of possible winter weather impacts.

A winter storm watch is issued when there is potential for hazardous winter weather within the next three to four days.

As the storm gets closer, typically the winter storm watch gets upgraded to a winter storm warning or a winter weather advisory if the impacts won’t be as big.

A winter storm warning signifies potentially life-threatening storm conditions will be likely within the next 24 to 48 hours. Usually, meteorologists warn people not to travel in areas where winter storm warnings have been issued because it can turn very dangerous.

A winter weather advisory is issued when an area will see impacts from a winter storm that aren’t as severe as the Winter Storm Warning criteria.

In a winter weather advisory, there can still be decent snowfall totals and impacts to roads but people can usually still travel in these conditions.

One of the most extreme winter warnings is a blizzard warning. This has very specific criteria in order to be issued.

For a blizzard warning, there has to be snowfall or blowing snow that reduces visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less for three hours or longer and sustained or frequent wind gusts of at least 35 mph.

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