Winter storm impact levels: What do they mean?

Knowing the difference of intensity of storms can help with preparations and scheduling of day-to-day activities in advance of potential disruptions.

Mike Rizzo

Jan 19, 2024, 1:46 PM

Updated 146 days ago

Share:

It’s not uncommon to think of a blizzard when you hear that snow is coming, but not every storm is always as intense. Knowing the difference of intensity of storms can help with preparations and scheduling of day-to-day activities in advance of potential disruptions.
MINOR IMPACT WINTER STORMS usually leave little accumulations that are quite easy to clean or overcome. Sure, it’s annoying, it is a nuisance, and it causes delays - but it shouldn’t cause overwhelming damage or a full disruption. Minor impacts usually take little time to clean up, with pushable snow that can be cleared with a light push of the shovel. Just don’t forget to clear your car fully in these weather events and use caution when driving on untreated roads as some dicey travel conditions can be expected. Main roads are generally fine in minor events.
MODERATE IMPACT WINTER STORMS leave a notable accumulation that may close schools or businesses. Although it isn’t too much, it can be enough where it may be difficult driving out of your neighborhood or to the main road. Even then, the left lanes on some highways may start to become slippery, even if treated. Moderate events usually have disruptions to the day-to-today routines and changes may be needed. If it’s imperative to travel, it can often be done - but some hazardous conditions may be encountered, and winter safety kits should be handy.
MAJOR IMPACT WINTER STORMS leave a significant accumulation that will close schools and businesses and create impassable travel. This is where staying at home comes in handy – with the bread and milk. Although some try to travel in major impact winter storms, it is common to find cars stuck in snow or sliding on ice. It’s important to heed major winter storm alerts to prioritize safety. Additionally, power outages may occur with strong gusts and cleanup/recovery takes a long time. Health hazards from being exposed to the cold and from shoveling are common because of how long it may take to cleanup accumulations. 


More from News 12