November 4th through the 8th is Winter Hazard Awareness Week in Minnesota. Each year the National Weather Service promotes winter safety, and today the focus is winter storms.

The National Weather Service issues various alerts for hazardous winter weather events, to provide us with ample information and time to prepare for potentially life threatening conditions experienced with winter storms.

Hazardous Weather Outlooks: Provide general information on developing winter weather up to a week before it occurs. While specific information, such as snow accumulations, may not be known until a day or two before a winter storm, you should closely monitor future forecasts and statements, and be alert for watches,warnings and advisories when winter weather is highlighted in an outlook.

Winter Storm Watch: Severe weather conditions, including heavy snow, blowing snow, freezing rain and/or sleet , may soon affect your area. if a watch is issued for your area, you should pay special attention to future forecasts and statements, and begin to make safety preparations.

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Winter Storm Warning: Severe winter weather conditions are occurring or are imminent. Most warnings are issued for heavy snow and wind, but may also be issued for ice and sleet storms. If a warning is issued for your area you should take immediate action to ensure the appropriate safety precautions have been taken.

Blizzard Warning: Visibilities are reduced to less than 1/4 mile for several hours due to falling and/or blowing snow, making travel virtually impossible. The wind will be at least 35 mph.

Snow Squall Warning: An exceptionally rare warning that most typically applies to lake effect snow squalls, where visibility drops to near-zero. It is issued for one hour or less for a small area, and is relayed as a Wireless Emergency Alert

Wind Chill: The cooling effect upon exposed skin, produced by the combination of temperature and wind. Note that the wind chill is based on a formula revised in 2001. A copy of the Wind Chill Chart is available on our web site.

Advisories: These are issued for conditions which warrant increased public awareness and moderately hamper travel, but where the weather is not severe enough to merit a warning.

More detailed information concerning winter safety can be acquired by contacting the Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, your local county or city emergency management office, or your nearest National Weather Service office.

Pete Hanson is on 98.1 Minnesota's New Country weekday mornings from 5:30 to 10:00.

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