Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility City of North Platte

Weather Terms

Winter Weather Terms

National Weather Service forecasts will give you several hours advance notice of hazardous winter weather. This time will enable you to prepare for whatever occurs.

Here are some terms you will hear this winter:

Winter Storm Watch… Issued when conditions appear favorable that the following elements either separately or in combination may develop in your area…blizzard conditions…heavy snow…dangerous wind chill or ice storm. Usually issued 24 to 48 hours in advance.

Blizzard Warning… Issued when the following conditions are imminent or occurring, and are expected to prevail in most cases for three hours or longer: sustained wind speeds or frequent gusts to 35-mph or more and considerable falling and/or drifting snow, reducing visibility frequently to less than 1/4 mile.

Winter Storm Warning… Issued when events that pose a direct threat to life or property such as heavy snow or an ice storm are imminent, occurring or have a very high probability of happening. These can be issued for: Heavy snow…snowfall accumulating six inches or more in 12 hours or eight inches or more in 24 hours is expected. Life threatening conditions…several inches of snow with freezing rain…or 3-5 inches of snow with high winds of 20 mph or greater.

Ice Storm Warning… Issued when significant and potentially damaging accumulations of ice are expected. This occurs when rain freezes on contact with surfaces such as the ground, trees, power lines, vehicles, streets and sidewalks. Trees and power lines can be pulled down and driving and walking become extremely difficult.

Winter Weather Advisory… Issued for less serious winter weather conditions that cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.

Snow… Issued when a steady snowfall accumulating three to five inches is expected. May be issued for snowfall accumulations of one to two inches at forecaster discretion.

Blowing and Drifting Snow… Issued when visibility is intermittently reduced to or below 1/2 mile due to blowing or drifting snow. This also may be issued for drifting snow that closes roadways.

Freezing Drizzle or Rain… Issued when drizzle or rain freezing on contact with surfaces such as the ground, trees, vehicles, streets or sidewalks is occurring or expected. Driving or walking can become difficult and hazardous.

Sleet… Issued when sleet accumulations of ½ inch or more occur. The NWS will also issue non-precipitation winter weather hazard announcements.

Dense Fog Advisory… Issued when fog with widespread visibility of 1/4 mile or less is occurring or expected.

Wind Advisory… Issued when sustained winds of 30 or 40 mph for one hour or longer or sustained winds or gusts of 45-mph for any duration are occurring or expected.

Freeze or Frost Warning… Issued when freezing temperatures or frost are expected over a widespread area during the growing season.

Wind Chill Index… Categorizes the chilling effect of wind and temperature on exposed flesh. Increased wind speeds accelerate heat loss from exposed skin, which can have a serious and possible fatal effect.

Wind Chill Warning… Issued when dangerous wind chill values of 30 below or lower from combined minimum wind speed of 10-mph and cold temperatures is occurring or expected.

Wind Chill Advisory… Issued when significant wind chill values of 20 to 29 below from combined minimum wind speed of 10-mph and cold temperatures are occurring or expected.


It’s been a while since Nebraska has seen conditions like this, but when the heavy snow hits, home is where the heart is and that’s where you should be.

If you plan to travel during the winter, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the National Weather Service recommend you stay abreast of local weather reports. When the forecasters are predicting threatening weather, the best bet is to seek shelter and wait out the storm.

Those who travel even during the worst of times are advised to carry a winter storm supply kit in their vehicle. A kit contains such items as a container of sand, shovel, windshield scraper, battery booster cables, a tow chain or rope, a flashlight or emergency light; transistor radio, extra batteries, first aid kit, warm blankets or a sleeping bag, candles, extra clothing and boots and high calorie, non-perishable food.

Another item that might make the difference is a cell phone. If you are stranded in your car during a blizzard, make a call and wait for help to arrive. Do not try to walk to safety.

The Department of Roads provides up to the minute reports on road conditions at


Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)
1300 Military Road
Lincoln, NE 68508-1090