Editor's Note: Meteorologist Bonnie Schneider is the author of EXTREME WEATHER. You can follow Bonnie at BonnieWeather.com
If you’ve been wondering where the cold air is, keep in mind winter’s not over yet! February is just around the corner.
If you haven’t felt the wrath of the season, you may endure the bitter blast of the cold and possibly the threat of dangerous winter weather in the coming weeks. Lots of weather terms get thrown around this time of year -- here’s a sampling so you know what they are and the risk they bring:
Freezing Rain: Rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars, and roads, forming a coating or glaze of ice. Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard.
Dangers: Ice coated trees, slick roads, slippery sidewalks, power outages.
Sleet: Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorists.
You may have heard the clicking and rattling sound these ice pellets make when they fall on your windshield or smack up against your window pane. Sleet not only can create icy conditions but can also reduce visibility on the roads.
Blizzard: The following conditions are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer:
Sustained wind or frequent gusts to 35 miles an hour or greater; and
Considerable falling and/or blowing snow (i.e., reducing visibility frequently to less than ¼ mile)
Right around this time last year the city of Chicago was hit by this all-encompassing type of winter storm. Howling wind, snow blowing sideways, and white out conditions are typically reported during a blizzard.
Even though Chicago was hit hard by a snowstorm at the start of 2011, and Seattle was slammed with record snow in January of 2012, neither city was ranked by Forbes.com as the number one snowiest city in the U.S. That prize goes to… Denver, Colorado with a whopping 60.3” of average annual snow!
Even if your city didn’t make the list, if you are in an area or visiting one this winter with cold temperatures, you still may have to face freezing conditions outside. What’s the best way to dress for it? You may have heard to wear layers, and a hat to keep warm, but did you know that mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves? That’s because fingers can stay warmer when they can touch each other.
Stay safe & warm!