Understanding Storm Watches and Storm Warnings

Ohio is subject to harsh winter conditions. From freezing temperatures well below zero, to freezing rains and never-ending snow storms, there’s a lot to be prepared for. For this reason, the National Weather Service sends out “storm watches” and “storm warnings.” What are the differences between the two? What do I need to do when they are announced? Here’s what you need to know.

Storm Watches

When a storm, blizzard, windchill, or lake effect snow warning is within 12-48 hours away, the National Weather Service (NWS) will issue what is called a “watch.” A watch is meant to encourage residents to prepare for a winter storm. This should include:

  • Preparing your home for winter
  • Creating an emergency kit for your home
  • Creating an emergency kit for your car
  • Making sure your home is properly insulated
  • Gathering enough food storage to last up to three days
  • Gathering warm clothes and blankets in case of a power outage
  • Creating an emergency response plan
  • Checking the roof and gutters for debris
  • Packing your freezer with as many necessities as possible

A blizzard watch can include heavy sleet, heavy snow, ice storms, and blowing snow. When extreme temperatures meet heavy winds, dangerously low windchills can be created. A lake effect snow watch is issued as heavy snowfall is created around lakes when cool atmospheric air meets warmer lake water, picking up water vapor from the lake, freezing it, and creating snow. Ice storms, freezing rain, and hail create very slick road and walkway conditions and, if strong enough, can damage your roof.

Storm Warnings

Following a storm watch, in all likelihood, comes the storm warning: a storm will arrive in your area.  This is the time to take action — make sure you have an emergency car kit in place, that your first aid kit is accessible, and that you have made heating preparations (space heaters, warm blankets, extra clothes). If preparation in the home, outside the home, or for the vehicle has not happened at this point, it is likely too late. If a storm warning has been issued, it’s best to seek shelter immediately, and to wait it out.

Storm Damage

Heavy snowfall, wind, ice, hail, freezing rain — any of these can do damage to your home or business. Heavy snow lodged in the gutters can cause them to rip from the roof, while freezing rain can slowly damage your roof over time and limit its lifespan. If your home is near power lines, there is the potential for heavy wind and snow to cause them to fall over, crashing onto your residence. Along with structural damage to your home, a fallen power line can also pose a serious threat to your safety. Never touch a downed power line for any reason. There is a common myth that power lines are insulated like power cords, but they are not. A live power line can transmit electricity through the ground and electrocute you, so be cautious and stay away.

Call Brock

The deep, cold winter is just barely showing its face in southwest Ohio, so now is the time to prepare for winter watches and warnings. Even the most prepared building can suffer damage from extreme temperatures, snow, and ice, and that’s where Brock Restoration will have your back. We’ll be out to your home or business the same day, and can assist you with all your restoration needs. If you have an immediate need, call us today at  (513) 214-3879 for a free, no obligation estimate.