National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
 

Snow Squall Burlington Intl. Airport, December 2009.  Courtesy: Peter Banacos, NWS
Snow Squall Burlington Intl. Airport, December 2009.  Courtesy: Peter Banacos, NWS

+What are snow squalls?

+What is the difference between a snow squall and a snow storm?

The difference between a snow squall and a snowstorm is the duration of the event. Snow squalls are usually very short-lived (on the order of 30-60 minutes) and extremely intense. A snow storm could last for several hours or even days.

Snow squalls, often associated with strong cold fronts, are a key wintertime weather hazard.
Valentine’s Day Squall in 2015, Port Matilda, PA.  Courtesy: Greg DeVoir, NWS
 

+Snow Squall Warnings

Snow squall warnings are short-fused and focused on distinct areas (like tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings). These warnings provide critical, highly localized life-saving information. If a snow squall warning is issued for your area, avoid or delay motor travel until the squall passes through your location.
 

+Actions to Take

If a snow squall warning is issued for your area, avoid or delay motor travel until the squall passes through your location. There truly is no safe place on the highway during a snow squall. However if you are already in transit and cannot exit the road in time, reduce your speed, turn on your headlights and hazard lights and allow plenty of distance between you and the car in front of you. It’s also best not to slam on your brakes.  With slick/icy roads, this could contribute to the loss of vehicle control and also increase the risk of a chain reaction crash.

Follow weather.gov to get the latest forecasts and warnings before you start your car to travel. For tips on how to stay safe before, during and after a winter weather, bookmark our Winter Weather Safety page. Prior to traveling, take steps to prepare your vehicle and have an emergency kit for your car. Bottom line, follow weather.gov to get the latest warnings before you travel this winter.

snow squall warning