Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Weather related Issues
Here you will find answers to Frequently Asked Questions related to weather Issues.

National Weather Service Watch, Warning and Advisory Criteria

Watch, Warning, & Advisory?
What is a "White-Out?"
Which NWS office serve my area?
Can I visit my local NWS office?
What are "degree days?"
Where can I find weather data?
How can I be Prepared for Disaster?
What does Shelter-in-Place Mean?
What is Family Disaster Planning?
What is a Disaster Supplies Kit?

What is the difference between a Watch, Warning, and Advisory?

Watch

A Watch is a product issued by the NWS (National Weather Service) indication that a particular hazard is possible, i.e., conditions are more favorable than usual for its occurrence.  A watch is a recommendation for planning, preparation, and increased awareness (i.e., to be alert for changing weather, listen for further information, and think about what to do if danger materializes).

Warning
A Warning is a product issued by the NWS (National Weather Service) indication weather hazard is either imminent or has been reported.  A warning indicates the need to take action to protect life and property.  The type of hazards is reflected in the type of warning (e.g., tornado warnings, blizzard warnings).

Advisory
An advisory is a product issued by the NWS (National Weather Service) that highlights special weather conditions that are less serious than a warning.  An advisory is for events that may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may cause threatened life and/or property.

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What is a "White-Out"
An official definition for 'white-out' does not exist.  It is a colloquial term that can describe any condition during snowfall that severely restricts visibility.  That may mean a blizzard, or snow squall, etc.  If you get some sunlight in the mix, that makes the situation even worse - it's like driving in fog with your headlights on high beam.  The light gets backscattered right into your face and you can't see.

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Is there any way to find out, which Weather Forecasting Office serves my area?
To locate the Weather Forecast Office that serves your area, go to: http://weather.gov/organization.php

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Can I visit my local NWS office?
Visiting your local NWS Forecasting Office is something that is not only allowed, but also encouraged.  Unfortunately, there are times when this might not be possible.  As you know, NWS offices are very busy places, especially during severe weather events.  The NWS is usually able to accommodate an individual's request to see the office, but would like to set this set up in advance as much as possible. They can often accommodate unannounced "walk-ins", but they are at the visitor's "own risk". The NWS does not schedule formal tours from March 15 through June 15th because of severe weather demands.

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What are "degree days?"
Heating and cooling degree days are calculated by using the average temperature for the day, the high + low, and subtracting the average or mean temperature from the number 65 for heating degree days or subtracting 65 from the average for cooling degree days.  The number 65 is used as the base number because most buildings and homes would be most comfortable and energy efficient at our around 65 degrees.

Example:   On a summer day the high was 90 and the low 70.  The average is 80.  80 (average) - 65 (base) = 15 cooling degree-days.  It reflects how much power people should be using on the average to cool, in this case their homes/businesses.  Take those daily cooling degree days and you can have daily/monthly or annual averages

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Where can I find current and historical weather data?
One central web site you should check for current weather and data products at: http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/ncdc.html

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How can I be prepared when Disaster Strikes?
Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services--water, gas, electricity or telephones--were cut off? Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away. Therefore, the best way to make your family and your home safer is to be prepared before disaster strikes.  Click HERE to learn more on how to be prepared for Disastrous situations.

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What Shelter-in-Place Means:
One of the instructions you may be given in an emergency where hazardous materials may have been released into the atmosphere is to shelter-in-place.  This is a precaution aimed to keep you safe while remaining indoors.  (This is not the same thing as going to a shelter in case of a storm.)  Shelter-in-place means selecting a small, interior room, with no or few windows, and taking refuge there.  It does not mean sealing off your entire home or office building.  To learn more about Shelter-in-Place click HERE for the Instructions provided by the Red Cross.

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What is a Family Disaster Plan?
Where will your family be when disaster strikes?  They could be anywhere…  at Work, at School, or in the car.  How will you find each other?  Will you know if your children are safe?  Click HERE to learn more and build your Family’s Disaster Plan.

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What is a Disaster Supplies Kit?
There are six basics you should stock for your home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items. Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to carry container. Possible containers include a large, covered trash container, a camping backpack, or a duffle bag.  Click HERE for more information regarding Disaster Supplies Kits.

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