National Weather Service Can Now Issue Snow Squall Warnings

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (EYT) – The National Weather Service has another tool in its arsenal to alert people about rapidly-changing snow events.

As of January 16, offices in Pittsburgh and State College can now issue snow squall warnings.

Forecasters use available tools (including instability and moisture parameters) to determine the risk of snow squalls in their local area.

Snow squalls are unique, localized extreme weather events that can result in a high impact to the public and commerce. Currently, hazard messages for these events are issued via generic. The Polygon-based Snow Squall Warning is short-fused and polygon-based, enabling improved dissemination techniques for maximum user distribution and effective Decision Support Services.

Squalls contain brief but intense snowfall rates that drop visibility and slicken roads, leading to dangerous conditions.

The warnings are posted when conditions warrant in the local forecast area for each of those offices. Buffalo, N.Y. is expected to follow at a later date.

Typically, snow squall warnings are short in duration and specify a localized area similar to what would be seen with a tornado, severe thunderstorm or flash flooding warning.

As with all other warnings the NWS issues, they are targeted at state and local officials, media, the general public, and others.

The region, particularly along Interstate 80, knows all too well the problems snow squalls can cause, helping contribute to major highway crashes due to brief but intense snowfall rates, which drop visibility quickly while slickening roads.

Snow squalls can occur in situations where there is no major large-scale winter storm in progress and may only produce minor accumulations.

“Annual highway fatalities from these events can exceed fatalities due to tornadoes in many years,” the NWS said in its product description for the new snow squall warning.

If a snow squall warning is issued for your area, the NWS has this advice:

• Consider avoiding or delaying travel until the snow squall passes your location.

• If you must travel, use extra caution and allow extra time.

• Rapid changes in visibility and slick road conditions may lead to accidents.

For more information, go to

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