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Local News

Understanding Advisories for Extreme Winter Weather This Coming Season


Armand Jackson

KOAA News5 reported recently that southern Colorado was under a frost advisory, freeze warning, and hard freeze warning by the National Weather Service (NWS) at the same time. However, the state already experienced freeze warnings earlier in October in areas like Denver and Yampa Valley as the growing seasonswithin Colorado are shrinking while it is increasing elsewhere in the country. But what do these warnings mean and how can Colorado residents keep themselves safe? According to the NWS, there are four levels of warning in regards to extremely cool temperatures: Frost Advisory; Freeze Watch; Freeze Warning; and Hard Freeze Warning.

A frost advisory means: “areas of frost are expected or occurring, posing a threat to sensitive vegetation.” A freeze watch means: “a potential for significant, widespread freezing temperatures within the next 24-36 hours.” A freeze warning means: “temperatures are forecasted to go below 32°F for a long period of time,” with the temperature threshold able to kill some commercial crops and residential plants. A hard freeze warning means: “temperatures are expected to drop below 28°F for an extended period of time, killing most types of commercial crops and residential plants.”

There are also three levels of warning in regards to wind chills: Wind Chill Advisory; Wind Chill Watch; and Wind Chill Warning. A wind chill advisory means: “seasonably cold wind chill values but not extremely cold values are expected or occurring.” A wind chill watch means: “dangerously cold wind chill values are possible.” A wind chill warning means: “dangerously cold wind chill values are expected or occurring.”

To be prepared for any of these weather alerts, NWS advises residents to avoid being outside during the coldest parts of the day, dress in layers, cover exposed skin, make sure vehicles have at least a half a tank of gas, and update their winter survival kits. Along with a general winter weather safety page, NWS has resources on what residents can do to stay safe before, during and after extremely cold weather.