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Prepare Today for What's on the Way: Decoding Winter Weather

Wednesday, December 7, 2011
How worried should you be about the next snow storm? Decoding the National Weather Service can help you know.

How worried should you be about the next snow storm? Decoding the National Weather Service (NWS) can help you know. All jurisdictions in the DC metropolitan area including the federal Office of Personnel Management, the District Government, and DCPS, look to NWS for guidance on winter weather. Here’s what they’re talking about: NWS issues Winter Weather Advisories when moderate snow, freezing rain, and/or sleet are expected. These conditions can cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous – but if people use caution and common sense, life and business can go on pretty much as normal. Winter Storm Watches are issued by NWS when there is a potential for heavy snow or ice accumulations. NWS tries to issue watches 24 to 36 hours in advance. If you are in a Watch area, you should pay attention to the news, keep alert for closings, and be ready to change your plans – especially if your plans include travel, commuting, or otherwise being on the road. A Winter Storm Warning is declared when a winter storm is forecast to produce heavy snow or ice within 24 hours, or one has already started. These conditions can be dangerous or even life-threatening for people who are unprepared or stranded outside. You can expect closings, and you should get home (or seek other shelter) well in advance of the weather starting. Keep in mind that emergencies can occur quickly and without warning. The best way to keep yourself and your family safe is to be prepared before an emergency strikes. Visit 72hours.dc.gov to learn how to make a plan, how to create an emergency go kit and what protective measures you can take before during and after an emergency strikes. When you visit this emergency site you can also sign up for real-time updates, instructions on what to or not to do, who to contact and other important information from Alert DC. Follow HSEMA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dc_hsema and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hsemadc