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Winter Storms: Watch, Warning and Advisory Criteria
Types of Message
The National Weather Service issues WATCHES, WARNINGS, and ADVISORIES to alert the public to potentially dangerous winter weather events or situations.
If caution is exercised, these situations should not be life threatening.
The exact criteria used to trigger these watches, warnings, and advisories vary throughout the United States. The following criteria are used in Maine. Criteria are the same across the State except where there is a noted difference between our two forecast areas:
Snow and/or blowing snow will combine with strong winds to produce near-zero visibility. Deep drifts and wind chill may accompany these conditions. The exact criteria used for these warnings include the following conditions which will persist for 3 hours or more.
Winter Storm Warning
Ice Storm Warning
Winter Weather Advisory
Ice Storm Advisory
The NWS does not issue warnings or advisories for storms that produce less than 4 inches of snowfall, but these storms can be deceptively dangerous. The majority of deaths linked to snow storms are as a result of traffic accidents, and many of those accidents occur with only small accumulations of snow. Slow down as soon as snow begins to accumulate.
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