National Weather Service office will issue new snow warning this winter


You may have seen it before when you were driving in the winter: a quick burst of snow, accompanied by gusty winds causing white-out conditions. It almost looks as if the world around you is a snow globe that was just aggressively shaken by a child.

These are called snow squalls and while they can occur in the winter at any time of day they're more common during the daytime. The reason for this is because with the right conditions when sun breaks out the atmosphere destabilizes and the snow showers can commence.

If you think back to earlier in the year you may recall a mess of a morning commute on March 8th. A series of snow squalls moved in shortly before sunrise and continued through the mid to late morning. Roads got so bad we had reports of two-hour commutes into town from Northern Franklin County.

Courtesy: NWS

At the time the NWS in Wilmington wasn't issuing warnings for this type of event. Snow Squall fell under Winter Weather Advisories or Special Weather Statements. That's changing this coming winter as the office in Wilmington has recently announced Snow Squall Warnings are coming to Central Ohio. The NWS began issuing Snow Squall Warnings in select offices from New England to Wyoming earlier this year.

Snow squalls are short-lived lasting about 30-60 minutes and reduce visibilities to 1/4 mile or less. The don't produce much snow, usually not more than an inch. But when these quick bursts of snow happen and road temperatures are below freezing or dropping rapidly even a small amount of snow will stick causing slick spots. Throw into the mix gusty winds and little to no way of seeing what's in front of you and it's easy to see why these events are so dangerous.

If a Snow Squall Warning is issued and you have to go out it's best to wait for it to pass. If you are out and you encounter one when you're driving slow down and turn on your headlights as visibilities drop rapidly. DO NOT slam on your brakes. The roads will likely be very slick and pileups can occur when these hit.

Be on the lookout for this new warning in the coming winter season. And if one is issued and you happen to be sitting at home I recommend going into your backyard just to watch it. They're a really cool weather phenomenon to witness... if you're not on the roads.