Goochland Severe Watches & Warnings NOAA Weather Radio

Public Information Statement
Statement as of 11:00 am EST on November 30, 2014

**************************************************** winter preparedness week in Virginia November 30- December 6, 2014 ****************************************************

Governor Terry mcauliffe has declared the week of November 30 to December 6, 2014 as winter preparedness week in Virginia. The National Weather Service /NWS/ offices serving cooperation with the Virginia department of emergency management...will send public information statements over the NOAA weather wire service each day through Saturday at approximately 11 am. These statements will focus on different aspects of winter weather in the mid Atlantic region...and preparedness actions the public should take for the upcoming winter season.

...winter forecast largely non-committal...

The winter of 2013-14 will be remembered for being a cold one across the commonwealth. After starting relatively tranquil...with a warmer than average December...the period from January through March was colder than normal...with several winter weather events. The biggest winter storm occurred on February 13 2014. This storm produced a foot or more of snow across the Shenandoah Valley and parts of northern Virginia. Other events...including March 3 2014...March 17 2014...and January 29 2014 produced 5 to 10 inches of snow across parts of Virginia.

The National Weather Service outlook for the 2014-15 winter (december through february) indicates equal chances for temperatures to be normal, above normal or below normal. Precipitation across the mid Atlantic region is expected to be average to possibly above average... especially east of the Blue Ridge. The outlook is largely based upon the expectation that El Nino conditions will develop in the equatorial Pacific Ocean over the next couple of months. El Nino is a Pacific Ocean phenomena whereby sea surface temperatures along the Equator between the West Coast of South America and the international dateline are above average. A moderate or strong El Nino can have significant short term impacts on the global weather and climate.

In addition...atmospheric features that could influence the upcoming winter are the North Atlantic oscillation /nao/ and the Pacific-North America index /pna/. These features affect the amount of cold air available...and the movement of coastal weather systems...and are not predictable more than 2-3 weeks in advance. During the Winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11...the nao was generally negative...leading to colder than average temperatures.

Although the overall forecast may not be worrisome in comparison to some recent Winters...preparation for potential winter storms is a must. Everyone in the mid Atlantic region should be prepared for occasional cold snaps and the possibility of at least one significant winter storm this coming winter. In has been more than a decade since the mid Atlantic region experienced a significant ice storm. It is only a matter of time before the area experiences an ice event like those in 1994...1998 and 1999.

Below is a link to the NOAA winter outlook for 2014-15.


Below are some definitions of various winter precipitation well as information on NWS winter storm warnings and advisories as they apply to Virginia.

....winter precipitation terms....

....freezing rain....freezing rain is rain that falls and freezes to a cold surface such as a Road or tree, causing a glaze of ice to form. Freezing rain forms when snow falls through a warm layer above the ground, melts to rain, then re-freezes upon reaching the ground, where the air and ground-level objects are below freezing. Freezing rain or "ice storms" can also knock down trees and power lines, and severely hamper travel. Ice storms in February 1994 and December 1998 left some areas of Virginia without power for a week.

....sleet....sleet is rain that has re-frozen into ice pellets prior to reaching the ground. Sleet forms in a similar manner to freezing rain. However, the layer of cold air near the ground is thick enough to allow the rain drops to re-freeze before reaching the ground. Sleet will bounce when it strikes a hard surface. Sleet can accumulate like snow and make a Road slick, but it is not as hazardous as freezing rain.

....blizzard...a blizzard occurs when winds 35 mph or greater combine with falling or blowing snow to reduce visibility to or below one- quarter mile for 3 hours or more causing white-out conditions. Wind chill temperatures are often near or below zero in a blizzard. People out in blizzards can quickly become disoriented from the cold, snow and wind, and lose their way when only several yards from their home or car.

....flurries....the term flurries refers to very light snow or snow that occurs for a short time period only causing a light dusting at best.

....wind chill....wind chill temperature is the "feel-like" temperature denoting the combined effect of wind and temperature on people and animals. Wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin. Wearing layers of clothing will help retain your body heat and combat wind chill. Once wind chill temperatures drop below -20 degrees f, exposed flesh can freeze in 30 minutes or less, causing frost bite.

...Winter weather warnings and advisories - what do they mean?...

Forecasts for winter weather issued by the National Weather Service often include watches, warnings and advisories designed to inform the public of the potential severity of a given weather situation. Understanding these messages can guide you to making the proper preparations for an upcoming weather event. Here is a list of some of the advisories, watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service, and what they mean in terms of expected weather conditions. and warnings......

Watches and warnings are issued by the National Weather Service for potentially life-threatening conditions regardless of the time of year. In winter, watches and warnings are most often issued for significant snow and/or ice storms, but may be issued for extremely cold wind chill temperatures, flooding and possibly even severe thunderstorms. Below are a list of winter weather watches and warnings.

Winter Storm Watch - issued when the following weather conditions are possible within 24 to 48 hours - at least 3 to 7 inches of snow and/or ice accumulations of 1/4 inch or a 12 to 24 hour period.

Winter Storm Warning - issued when the watch conditions described above are either imminent or likely within 24 hours.

Blizzard Warning - issued when strong winds combine with falling and/or blowing snow to reduce visibility to one quarter mile or less for at least 3 hours. Deep snow drifts and dangerously low wind chills often accompany blizzard conditions.

Wind chill warning - issued when wind chill temperatures (the combined effect of wind and temperature on exposed skin) are forecast to reach 20 degrees below zero or colder.

......advisories...... weather advisories are issued for hazardous...but not necessarily life-threatening conditions

Freezing rain/Freezing Drizzle Advisory - issued when freezing rain or freezing drizzle will produce hazardous conditions for motorists and pedestrians.

Wind Chill Advisory - issued when wind chill temperatures (the apparent temperature resulting from the combination of wind and cold temperatures) ranging between 5 degrees below zero and 20 degrees below zero colder. Although wind chill values in this range are only life threatening when skin is exposed for more than one hour, not taking necessary precautions to protect one from the cold could result in hypothermia.

Winter Weather Advisory - issued when a combination of snow, sleet or freezing rain precipitation will cause significant inconvenience and hazardous driving conditions.

Winter storms are deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Examples are traffic accidents due to icy roads...heart attacks while shoveling snow...or deaths due to prolonged exposure to the cold. The advisories, watches and warnings listed above are issued to help you...the public... prepare for upcoming winter weather and take appropriate action to protect yourself and your property.

Whatever weather this winter brings...the Virginia department of emergency management...the North Carolina division of emergency management and the National Weather Service want you to be prepared for the season ahead. The statements which will be sent this week are designed to assist in that preparation.

Being prepared means having the necessary information to make the right decisions. Weather forecasts play a large role in this decision making process. The National Weather Service recommends that you regularly tune to NOAA Weather Radio or your local radio and television stations to stay abreast of weather conditions this winter.

Additional information on winter weather preparedness can be obtained on-line through the Virginia department of emergency management home Page. The url is (in lower case):


In addition...the ready Virginia and ready North Carolina web sites haves been developed to aid virginians and north carolinians in their overall disaster preparedness. The urls are:

http://www.Vaemergency.Gov/readyvirginia /English version/ http://www.Vaemergency.Gov/listovirginia /Spanish version/ http://readync.Org/ /English version/ http://listonc.Org/ /Spanish version/

Up-to-date weather information is also available on-line from the following National Weather Service sites (all urls in lower case):

NWS Wakefield - http://weather.Gov/akq NWS Sterling - http://weather.Gov/lwx NWS Blacksburg - http://weather.Gov/rnk NWS Charleston WV - http://weather.Gov/rlx NWS Morristown TN - http://weather.Gov/mrx NWS Raleigh NC - http://weather.Gov/rah

National Weather Service winter weather awareness home Page -


Bill sammler warning coordination meteorologist NOAA/National Weather Service Wakefield VA