NWS Implementing ‘Snow Squall Warning’ This Winter

("Snowy Road" by Ben+Sam, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Winter in Indiana can be crazy. Snow, ice and freezing rain. Advisories, watches and warnings.

This year, you might see or hear about a new type of warning from the National Weather Service — a Snow Squall Warning.

“Primarily, it’ll be with the heavy snowfall and blowing snow, that sort of situation,” says Meteorologist Jason Puma with the NWS in Indianapolis. “Visibility will be reduced significantly, probably to less than a quarter of a mile.”

However, it’s not a blizzard. Blizzard Warnings cover a large area for a long amount of time. Puma says to think of a Snow Squall Warning as a winter version of a Severe Thunderstorm Warning.

“We issue them only for a small part of a county, or maybe a couple counties, and they’re usually in effect for 30-45 minutes.”

A Snow Squall Warning is used more to alert drivers. For example, a few years ago on Interstate 70 near Plainfield, one person was killed in a 30-car pileup that was caused by a snow squall.

“People are traveling 65-70 miles per hour, and then all of a sudden, the conditions change in a certain area, and there are very slick roads and you can’t see as far,” Puma said.

He also says the more north you go in Indiana, the more you’ll see and hear about Snow Squall Warnings, especially if you live near Lake Michigan where more lake-effect snow falls.