Winter storms can bring snow, sleet, and freezing rain across the entire United States and its territories. Even Hawaii gets snow in its Big Island, and major cities as far south as Atlanta and Dallas have been paralyzed by snow and ice. Blizzards occur when strong wind causes blowing snow and whiteout conditions, making roads impassable. Thousands of people are injured or killed every year in traffic accidents related to slippery roads from winter storms.
Common Washington State winter storm terms include:
Sleet - Rain that turns to into pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
Freezing Rain - Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees, and powerlines.
Black Ice - Patchy ice on roadways that cannot be easily seen. It is often clear (not white) with the black road surface visible underneath. It is most prevalent during the early morning hours, especially after snow has melted & had a chance to refreeze over night.
Avalanche - A rapid flow of snow down a hill or mountainside.
Winter Weather Advisory - Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.
Winter Storm Watch - A winter storm is possible. Tune into a NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information.
Winter Storm Warning - A winter storm is occurring or will occur soon in your area.