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Winter Weather Words

Flurries: When the snow is light and brief it is usually referred to as a snow shower or flurries. There is usually little or no accumulation from flurries; at most there would be a slight dusting.

Freezing Rain: This is rain that falls as liquid drops but freezes upon impact with a surface. This is caused either because the raindrops are supercooled and freeze on contact or that the surface is well below freezing. Actually, it is only freezing rain in the first case - when the drops themselves are supercooled. But in day-to-day use we usually consider any rain that falls and is observed frozen as freezing rain.

Frost: This is very similar to dew formation, but at much colder temperatures. When water vapor in the atmosphere lands on a surface below the frost point (freezing) frost is created.

Frost Point: 32 degrees Farenheit, 0 Celsius.

Hurricane-force Winds: Winds exceeding 74 mph. Hurricane-force winds may occur during a non-hurricane storm.

Indian Summer: This is a sort of "reprieve period" in mid to late autumn in the eastern United States and eastern Canada, always after the first frost. It is characterized by light winds, clear skies and temperatures which are unseasonably warm during the day and refreshingly chill at night.

Wind-Chill Factor: This is winter's answer to the heat index. It is the temperature we feel on our skin, combining actual temperature and wind speed. It is a true temperature in that it takes into consideration more than just the numbers.

Wind Direction: Just a little interesting note - when they refer to wind direction they are referring to the direction from which the wind blows. For example, a wind lowing from south to north is a southerly wind.

Nor'easter: Common contraction for northeastern. (Remember this means it comes from the northeast) This wind usually blows at gale or storm speeds and brings with it very cold temperatures.

Winter Storm: This is a large-scale disturbance, associated with a low-pressure system, or cyclone, that develops along a front during the cooler part of the year. Winter storms produce strong winds, heavy precipitation (rain, freezing rain, ice pellets or snow) and cold temperatures.

Alberta Clipper: This winter storm is fast moving and brings with it very high winds, reduction in visibility (caused by blowing and drifting snow). The storm originates in the Alberta, Canada region. It is not uncommon to experience blizzard conditions during an Alberta Clipper.

Lake Effect: Being on Lake Erie makes us part of a weather phenomenon known as Lake Effect. This is the effect of any lake in modifying the weather and climate along its shore (and a distance inland). Snowfalls along the shore of a lake or downwind some distance from the shore caused by the modification of cold, subfreezing air by the relatively warmer lake water. How much effect it has will depend on the temperature contrast between the lake surface and the air passing over it, and the regional weather situation.

Winter storm watch: A watch is the first step to alert people that severe weather is probable, usually within 12 to 36 hours. . Often the location and timing are uncertain. A winter storm watch is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set plans in motion can do so.

Winter storm warning: When hazardous winter weather is occurring, imminent or likely a warning is issued. It is used if there is a threat to life or property. In most cases warnings are usually issued for heavy snow of six inched or more, ice accumulations, dangerous wind chills, or a combination of the three. (Warnings can be issued for lesser amounts of snow, say 3 to 6 inches, if the snow occurs with strong winds in excess of 20 miles an hour and/or significant sleet or heavy ice accumulations from freezing rain.).

Blizzard warning: If a blizzard warning is issued there are either sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 mph occurring in combination with considerable falling and/or blowing snow for a period of at least three hours. Visibilities will frequently be reduced to less than one-quarter mile and temperatures will often remain extremely cold in a blizzard.

Heavy snow warning: If snow accumulations are expected to approach or exceed six inches in 12 hours (but will not be accompanied by significant wind) a heavy snow warning will be issued. . A heavy snow warning could also be issued if eight inches or more of accumulations are expected in a 24 hour period. In addition, during a heavy snow warning, freezing rain and sleet are not expected.

Hail: Hail is precipitation that is formed in certain types of clouds, in the form of balls and/or irregular pieces of ice. Hail is considered to have a diameter of 5 millimeter or more; if it is smaller, it is considered an ice pellet. If they are group together rather then individual balls they are called hailstones




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