The National Weather Service has revamped the standards for winter storm warnings across the country, issuing a new map to serve as the basis for issuing winter storm watches and warnings across the United States.
Monitoring standards and warnings adhere to limits on snowfall amounts. This means that a certain amount of snow must be expected to fall in an area before a winter storm warning or watch is issued.
Previously, the criteria used to issue those watches and warnings were determined by each of the 122 nuclear-weapon state offices in their jurisdictions. These jurisdictions typically cover 10 to 20 counties, according to NOAA, which oversees nuclear-weapon states. They noted that some districts are divided between offices, based on geographic characteristics.
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Under the new standards, all local nuclear weapons offices will follow the limits set for them by the main nuclear weapons office. These thresholds can be seen in the new “Winter Storm Warning Criteria” map.
Each region is color-coded with a snowfall threshold based on the county or geographic region.
For example, the color of Knox County in eastern Tennessee indicates that the amount of snow that must fall for a winter storm warning is 3 inches, while the color of the often snow-covered Wasatch Mountains in northern Utah indicates that the threshold is much higher. In 18 inches.
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To find winter storm warning criteria for your area, see the interactive map on the NWS website.