Despite our sub-tropical climate here in the Houston area, we can still see cold weather in the winter when conditions are right. The National Weather Service issues numerous cold-weather related advisories, here are the differences between each one:
Winter Weather Advisory A Winter Weather Advisory will be issued for any amount of freezing rain, or when some accumulation of snow (alone or in combination with sleet and freezing rain), is expected to cause a significant inconvenience, but not serious enough to warrant a warning.
Winter Storm Watch A Winter Storm Watch is issued when there is the potential for significant and hazardous winter weather within 48 hours. It does not mean that significant and hazardous winter weather will occur…it only means it is possible.
Significant and hazardous winter weather is defined as a combination of: • Certain accumulation (inches) of snow/sleet within a 12-hour period • Enough ice accumulation to cause damage to trees or power lines. • Life threatening or damaging combination of snow and/or ice accumulation with wind.
Winter Storm Warning Same criteria as a Winter Storm Watch (above), but imminent instead of within 48 hours.
Blizzard Warning A Blizzard Warning means that the following conditions are occurring or expected within the next 12 to 18 hours: Snow and/or blowing snow reducing visibility to 1/4 mile or less for 3 hours or longer Sustained winds of 35 mph or greater or frequent gusts to 35 mph or greater
Ice Storm Warning ¼ inch or more of ice accumulation.
Freeze Watch A Freeze Watch is issued when there is a potential for significant, widespread freezing temperatures within the next 24-36 hours.
Freeze Warning A Freeze Warning is issued when significant, widespread freezing temperatures are expected.
Frost Advisory A Frost Advisory is issued when the minimum temperature is forecast to be 33 to 36 degrees on clear and calm nights during the growing season.
Wind Chill Advisory A Wind Chill Advisory is issued when significant wind chills are expected.
Wind Chill Warning A Wind Chill Warning is issued when dramatic wind chills are expected.