Why the snow squall alerts? Sam LaRocca speaks with the National Weather Service

Samantha LaRocca
Updated: January 08, 2020 05:27 PM
Created: January 08, 2020 04:25 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WHEC) — Earlier Wednesday we saw whiteout conditions as a snow squall pushed through Rochester.

A lot of you may have been wondering why snow squall warnings are coming up on your phone. 


Samantha LaRocca spoke with Mike Fries, one of the meteorologists at the NWS in Buffalo, and he explained why they are implementing this practice.

"So the snow squall warning started three years ago with the motivation of trying to reduce the mass pile-ups on the freeways that really started out of some of the offices in Pennsylvania and New York because of high incidents on the Pennsylvania Turn Pike, I-80  and I-86 and the New York State Thruway," Fries said.

They are using a system similar to severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings for these snow squalls. The idea is to keep people off of the roads when bad winter weather is approaching.

"The idea with any warning is not to scare people it is to inform people," Fries said. "When the agency's mission is to protect lives and property, and we look at the amount of people who are injured or die in these mass pileups if you look at the two last weeks in Pennsylvania, half a dozen died, and we had another one today in Pennsylvania in Claredon. These are the things we are trying to avoid."

If you get an emergency alert on your phone, and it hasn't started snowing yet, maybe it is a good idea to not go out on the road.

It is important to note: If you are using Android App Auto or Apple Car Play in the car, those alerts will show up on your display so you don’t have to pick up your handset.

"The process was done carrier by carrier and it started three or four weeks ago and now as of this point in January, it should be that the alerts are kicking off all of the handsets on all the carriers at this point," Fries said.

The next time an alert comes in, take a second to think and act before going out on the roads. These alerts can be lifesaving.

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