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Winter Weather Watches, Warnings and Advisories

In the interest of providing better communication and service, the National Weather Service recently simplified its number of winter weather products. The specific weather hazard will still be clearly stated in the watch, warning or advisory.


Winter Weather
Watches
Criteria / Definition
Winter Storm Watch
Conditions are favorable for hazardous winter weather conditions including heavy snow, blizzard conditions, or significant accumulations of freezing rain or sleet in the next 12 to 48 hours. It may also include wind chills if they are expected with the above listed events.
Blizzard Watch
Conditions are favorable for blizzard conditions in the next 12 to 48 hours.
Wind Chill Watch
Conditions are favorable for dangerous wind chills in the next 12 to 48 hours.
Winter Weather
Warnings
Criteria / Definition
Winter Storm Warning
Any one or a combination of the following (the elevations are generalized in this criteria, some areas may have more specific criteria):
Eastern Montana: 6 inches or more in 12 hours or 8 inches or more in 24 hours.
Mountain Areas: 8 inches or more in 12 hours, 12 inches or more in 24 hours. Sustained winds of less than 34 mph causing blowing snow (with or without snowfall occurring) reducing visibility to more than a ¼ mile for 3 hours or more.
-Ice accumulations under a ¼” that last for three hours or more and occurs on 50% of a significant public use area on roadways and sidewalks.
-Sleet accumulations of a ½” or more.
-Wind chills of ≤ -40 degrees (east of the divide) or ≤ -20 degrees (west of the divide) with winds of ≥ 10 mph occurring with any of the above criteria.
Blizzard Warning
Sustained or frequent gusts of 35 mph or more, frequent visibilities of ≤ ¼ mile, falling and/or blowing snow for 3 hours or more.
Ice Storm Warning
Issued when significant and damaging accumulations of ice are expected, generally a ¼” accumulation or more.
Wind Chill Warning
East of the Divide: Wind chills of ≤ -40 degrees with winds ≥ 10 mph, no precipitation occurring.
West of the Divide: Wind chills of ≤ -20 degrees with winds ≥ 10 mph, no precipitation occurring.
Winter Weather
Advisories
Criteria / Definition
Winter Weather
Advisory
Any one or a combination of the following:
-2 to 5 inches of snow in 12 hours below 6000 feet. Some mountainous areas may have other criteria, generally 4-7 inches.
-Wind driven snow that occasionally reduces visibilities down to a ¼ mile.
-Wind chill advisory criteria along with 2-5 inches of snow and/or blowing snow reducing visibility down to a ¼ mile, or 4-7 inches of snow in mountainous areas.
-Sleet accumulations of less than a ½".
-An event that transitions to or from freezing rain into any of the above criteria.
Wind Chill Advisory
East of the Divide: Wind chills of -20 degrees to -39 degrees with winds of ≥ 10 mph, no precipitation occurring.
West of the Divide: Wind chills of -10 degrees to -19 degrees with winds of ≥ 10 mph, no precipitation occurring.
Freezing Rain
Advisory
Glazing of freezing drizzle or freezing rain for a few hours with accumulations of less than ¼ inch. It generally covers less than 50% of the area.
Wind and Fog 
Advisories
Criteria / Definition
Wind Advisory
Livingston Area / Beartooth Foothills only - Sustained winds ≥ 40 mph for at least 2 hours or any gust between 58 mph and 74 mph.
Lake Wind Advisory
Fort Peck Lake - Winds sustained at 20 mph or higher for 3 hours or more, or any gusts of 30 mph or higher.
Flathead Lake - Winds sustained at 20 mph and/or gusts of 30-57 mph.
Dense Fog Advisory
Visibility ≤ ¼ mile for 3 hours or more.
High Wind Watch / Warning
Criteria / Definition
High Wind Watch
Conditions are favorable for high winds in and close to the watch area in the next 12 to 48 hours.
High Wind Warning
Livingston Area/Beartooth Foothills Only - Sustained winds of 50 mph or greater for a duration of at least 2 hours or for any wind gust to 75 mph or greater.
Elsewhere - Sustained winds ≥ 40 mph for at least 2 hours or any gust ≥ 58 mph.

Montana Public Forecast Zone Boundaries
Montana NWS County Warning Areas

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National Weather Service
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101 Airport Road
Glasgow, MT 59230

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