What does that warning mean?

Winter driving tips

It is important for motorists to remember a few winter driving tips:

• Be sure to carry plenty of wiper fluid as liquid de-icers may coat your windshield

• Let the snowplow drivers do their jobs by giving them extra room and never pass

• Slow down. Even roads that have been treated with liquid de-icers may be slippery

• Don't use cruise control when traveling in winter conditions

• Be prepared by having a scraper, snow brush, coat, hat, gloves, blanket, first aid kit, flashlight, tire chains, matches and nonperishable food in your car

• Make sure your tires have good tread

• Current road and weather conditions are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via reports and traffic cameras on the www.cotrip.org Web site. Road condition information also is available by calling 511.

• Additionally, truckers are urged to follow the law and be sure to carry chains if traveling Interstate-70 west as chain laws will likely be in effect. Information on Colorado's chain laws can be found at www.cotrip.org>

- Colorado Department of Transportation

— Winter is just around the corner. When a warning is issued will you know what it means, and will you know how to respond? During this Colorado Winter Weather Preparedness Week, please review the list of winter warning products, as well as warning and advisory criteria.

This list contains the warning and advisory criteria for Colorado west of the continental divide. Criteria east of the divide will be provided today in a separate issuance by the Boulder forecast office.

Outlooks

A Hazardous Weather Outlook is issued daily by each National Weather Service office in Colorado. The outlook provides information on potentially hazardous weather out to 7 days into the future. Also, The Weather Story, a graphic of expected hazardous weather is posted twice daily on National Weather Service web sites serving Colorado.

Watches and warnings

A Winter Storm Watch is issued when hazardous winter storm conditions are possible, but not certain, within the next 12 to 36 hours. For rare situations, it will be issued for the fourth forecast period, 36 to 48 hours into the future.

Winter weather warnings are issued for potentially life-threatening weather events that are expected to begin within the next 12 hours, and occasionally as much as 24 hours into the future.

A Winter Storm Warning is issued when heavy snow is expected to occur in combination with other hazardous winter weather conditions, such as blowing snow or very cold wind chill temperatures.

Warning criteria for heavy snow is defined by the following amounts:

• Mountains, 12 inches or more within 24 hours.

• Lower elevations, 6 inches or more within 24 hours.

• First significant snowfall of the season or a late season snowfall not meeting the above criteria.

A Blizzard Warning is issued when the following conditions are:

• Expected to persist for at least 3 hours.

• Have sustained winds of 35 mph or greater, and considerable falling and/or drifting snow lowering visibilities to less than 1/4 mile.

A High Wind Warning is issued for the following conditions:

• Mountains, sustained winds of 50 mph or more for at least 1 hour, or gusts of at least 75 mph for any duration.

• Lower elevations, sustained winds of 40 mph or more for at least 1 hour, or gusts of at least 58 mph for any duration.

A Wind Chill Warning will be issued for the following wind chill temperatures, when combined with sustained winds of at least 10 mph.

• Mountains, 35 degrees Fahrenheit below zero or colder

• Lower elevations, 25 degrees Fahrenheit below zero or colder

A Dust Storm Warning will be issued for the following conditions:

• Visibility reduced to 1/4 mile or less, and sustained winds of 25 mph or greater for at least one hour

Advisories

Advisories for winter weather are issued for potentially hazardous winter weather conditions expected to begin during the next 12 hours. Occasionally, a winter weather advisory is issued for conditions expected to develop up to 24 hours into the future.

Advisory criteria for snowfall is defined by the following amounts:

• Mountains, 5 to 12 inches within 24 hours

• Lower elevations, 3 to 6 inches within 24 hours

A Wind Advisory is issued for the following conditions:

• Mountains, sustained winds of 40 to 49 mph for at least 1 hour, or gusts of 58 to 74 mph for any duration.

• Lower elevations, sustained winds 30 to 39 mph for at least 1 hour, or gusts of 45 to 57 mph for any duration.

A Wind Chill Advisory is issued for the lower elevations when the wind chill is expected to be between 18 below and 24 below zero.

A Dense Fog Advisory is issued when widespread fog will reduce visibilities to 1/4 mile or less.

Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Colorado will continue through Saturday. Additional public information statements will be issued throughout the remainder of this week to help you know how to respond when hazardous winter weather threatens.

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