National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce




 Welcome to Day One of Winter Hazard Awareness Week.  


Day 1: Winter Hazard Awareness Week-  Terms We Use to Help You Make Decisions

The governors of Wisconsin and Minnesota have declared this week Winter Hazards Awareness Week. This annual campaign is sponsored by the Wisconsin Division of Emergency Management, the Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the National Weather Service to remind you to be prepared for winter conditions that could threaten your safety.

The National Weather Service is your source for winter weather information.

 The National Weather Service issues winter weather outlooks, watches, warnings, and advisories. Here is what they mean and what you should do.


  • Hazardous Weather Outlooks are issued daily and updated continuously by our team of meteorologists to inform you of ANY possbile hazardous weather within the next seven days.  You can find the Hazardous Weather Outlook on our web page.


  • Winter Storm and Blizzard Watches mean that winter storm conditions including heavy snow, sleet, and freezing rain (or all of the above!) or a blizzard are possible within the next few days. A Wind Chill Watch means dangerously cold temperatures and winds are expected within the next few days. When a watch is in effect, continue to monitor the weather forecast and start planning for the specific hazards.


  • Winter Storm, Ice Storm, and Blizzard Warnings mean significant storm or event is occurring or will begin in the next 24 hours. A Wind Chill Warning means dangerously cold wind chills or temperatures are occurring or will begin within the next 24 hours. Make sure to cover exposed skin and limit your time outdoors. When we issue warning you should complete your preparations!  Take necessary precautions, including cancelling or changing travel plans. Stock up on essentials. Remember that you may be without power for a few days, so water and non-perishable food should be available for your whole family.


  • The NWS issues Winter Weather, Freezing Rain, Wind Chill, and Dense Fog Advisories for conditions which warrant your increased awareness, but the weather is not expected to be severe enough to merit a warning. Some hazards that advisories are issued for are light snow accumulation, blowing snow, freezing drizzle or freezing rain with light accumulations, dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills, and fog.
You can view all our outlooks, advisories, watches, and warning on our Severe Weather Summary page. You can find more winter preparedness information at the Minnesota HSEM Winter Weather Safety page and the ReadyWisconsin Winter Facts page.



You can view the information for the other Winter Hazard Awareness Week topics using the links below:

Day 2 - Preparation
Day 3 - Travel Safety
Day 4 - Cold Weather Safety
Day 5 - Indoor Winter Safety