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Winter Weather Awareness

As we move into the winter weather season, it is a good time for employees to review SDBOR Policy 4:40 and SDSU Policy 10:7 regarding emergency closings.

Unless an emergency closing is announced, all SDSU employees including faculty are expected to report to work. However, during inclement weather, all employees are urged to use their own discretion in deciding whether they can safely commute to work.

Winter Weather Advisory

Winter weather expected. Exercise caution.
Light amounts of wintry precipitation or patchy blowing snow will cause slick conditions and could affect travel if precautions are not taken.

When any of the following criteria is expected to occur:

  • Snow: >3-5" in 12 hours or 5-8" in 24 hours
  • Sleet: Accumulation up to 1/4 inch
  • Ice: <1/4"
  • Freezing Rain: Combination with sleet and/or snow, or blowing snow.
  • Blowing Snow: Visibility occasionally reduced to 1/4 mile due to blowing snow with winds less than 35 mph.
  • On the Road: Unplowed/less traveled roads may be slick; drive with caution. If blowing snow is occurring, drive at a safe speed and leave plenty of space between you and others. Turn headlights on!
  • At Home: Make sure you have the proper snow removing equipment to clear your sidewalks and driveways.

Be aware.

Winter Storm Watch

Snow, sleet, or ice possible! Be prepared.

Confidence is medium that a winter storm could produce heavy snow, sleet, or freezing rain and cause significant impacts.

Issued when conditions are favorable for a significant winter storm event (heavy sleet, heavy snow, ice storm, heavy snow and blowing snow or a combination of events.)

Be prepared.

Winter Storm Warning

Issued when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is imminent or occurring. Winter Storm Warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin.

When any of the following criteria is expected to occur:

  • Snow: >6" in 12 hours or >8" in 24 hours
  • Sleet: 1/2" or more
  • On the Road: Seriously consider postponing any non-essential driving. If you must drive, carry a winter survival kit in your car and be prepared for delays.
  • At Home: Make sure you have the proper snow removing equipment to clear your sidewalks and driveways. If an exceptionally high amount of snow is forecast, be prepared to remain at home for a day or two.

Take action.

Blizzard Warning

Severe winter weather is expected within the next 12-36 hours or is occurring — including whiteout conditions.

Sustained wind or frequent gusts greater than or equal to 35 mph will accompany falling and/or blowing snow to frequently reduce visibility to less than or equal to 1/4 mile for three or more hours.

  • On the Road: Refrain form driving except in emergency situations, especially in open country. Always carry a winter survival kit in your car if you must drive. High winds and white-out conditions will make driving extremely dangerous.
  • At Home: Be prepared to remain at home for a few days, especially if you live in a rural area. Snow drifts may be higher than 10 feet, so make sure you have the proper snow removing equipment.

Take action.

Precipitation Definitions

  • Snow: Frozen precipitation that never melts during its descent to the surface.
  • Sleet: Frozen precipitation falls through a warm layer and melts, then falls through another cold layer that is deep enough to refreeze the raindrops into pellets before hitting the ground.
  • Freezing Rain: Frozen precipitation falls through a warm layer and melts, then falls on surfaces that are below freezing and solidifies, resulting in an even coating of ice on streets, trees, cars and power lines.
  • Rain: frozen precipitation that falls through a deep warm layer and melts into liquid before reaching the ground. Water droplets are classified as rain if they are 0.5 millimeters or greater in size, whereas droplets smaller than 0.5 millimeters are classified as drizzle.

Questions About Snow Squalls

Quick intense bursts of snow accompanied by strong gusty winds. Short-lived. Typically less than 3 hours. Normally occur during the day.

Rapidly reduced visibility. Treacherous travel conditions. Potential chain-reaction accidents.

Warning is usually 30-60 minutes in length, issued for small areas where snow squalls are expected. Similar to Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm Warning.

Have a way to get forecasts and warnings. Consider an alternate route or delaying travel. Stay alert for rapidly changing road conditions. Reduce speed and use low beam headlights.

The most well-known blizzards are winter storms that produce several inches occurring with strong winds that cause blowing snow and whiteout conditions, but not all blizzards happen this way. In the Midwest, ground blizzards develop with little or no concurrent (or new) snowfall.

The typical ground blizzard occurs when an Arctic cold front moves through the region, causing temperatures to drop and winds to increase quite rapidly, often reaching gusts of 50 to 60 mph. If there are several inches of deep fresh snow on the ground, this strong wind will quickly pick up the snow and create whiteout conditions. Another reason these blizzards are dangerous is the cold temperatures that follow behind the Arctic front. Anyone stranded in their vehicle or forced to walk outside is at risk of frostbite or hypothermia.

Winter Travel

  • Road Trip Safety Tips
  • Share your travel plans with friends or family
  • Winterize your vehicle
  • Pack an emergency supply kit
  • Check road conditions
  • Get the weather forecast

NWS Video - Items to include in your vehicle's winter survival kit

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Additional winter preparedness information can be found at: