First Alert Weather In-Depth: Wednesday snow squall

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Well, it’s the end of Winter and we are finally talking about snow squall warnings here in western New York. Before we talk about how the National Weather Service issues Snow Squall Warnings, let’s get a refresher on what snow squalls are.

Snow squalls are the sudden onset of wind and snow, and wind is the key. This is because the combination of heavy snow and wind will create whiteout conditions outside your window, and more importantly the roads. They generally last less than an hour here in Western New York, but they can create treacherous travel.

To combat that, about two or three years ago, the National Weather Service started a new warning known as “Snow Squall warnings.” They are issued like Severe Thunderstorm Warnings in the Summer as they have a polygon shape and are issued when the snow is occurring or imminent. They also only last about 30 to 60 minutes. These warnings can trigger the Emergency Alert System on your phone.

The best way to understand Snow Squall warnings is to think of them as the “severe thunderstorm warnings” of Winter.