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Virginia, Accomack

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 Virginia... in
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

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 addition... it 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
types... as 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

... .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.

                ... ... watches 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

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 more... in 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

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