City of Colorado Springs / Emergency Management / Weather Information / Local Weather Hazards / Winter Storms

Winter Storms

Colorado Department of Transportation road conditions, traffic cameras, alerts and restrictions throughout Colorado are located at http://www.dot.state.co.us/

 Call 511 from your cell phone for statewide conditions

or 303-639-1111 for nationwide conditions.
  
Colorado is no stranger to winter storms. In 1997, winter weather was responsible for 94 fatalities. In 1998, the number of winter-related deaths totaled 77. Exposure to cold, vehicle accidents, and fires due to improper use of heaters all add up to a significant threat. A major storm can last for several days and be accompanied by high winds, freezing rain or sleet, heavy snowfall and cold temperatures.

It's important to take steps to winterize your home and car. Always carry an emergency supply kit in your car when traveling during the winter months and stay tuned to weather forecasts that may impact your area. Always dress correctly for the weather even if you are only going for a short drive with a warm building as your destination. The car may be warm, but you may be forced to walk for help if the car stalls or you are involved in an accident.

Frost/Freeze Warning: Below freezing temperatures are expected and may cause significant damage to plants, crops, or fruit trees. In areas unaccustomed to freezing temperatures, people who have homes without heat need to take added precautions.

Winter Weather Advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected and may be hazardous, especially for motorists.

Winter Storm Watch: Alerts the public to the possibility of a blizzard, heavy snow, heavy freezing rain or heavy sleet. Winter storm watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a winter storm. Take time to prepare. Make sure your emergency supply kits for home and car contain all of the items you may need.

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. Seek shelter and do not travel unless absolutely necessary.

Wind Advisory: Issued for average wind speeds between 31 and 39 miles an hour or for frequent wind gusts between 46 and 57 miles an hour.

High Wind Warning: Expected winds will average 40 miles an hour or more for at least 1 hour or wind gusts will be greater than 58 miles an hour. Trees and power lines can be blown down. A high wind warning may be preceded by a high wind watch if the strong winds are not expected to occur for at least 12 hours.

Blizzard Warning: Heavy snow and sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill. Seek refuge immediately. Blizzards are the most dangerous of winter storms with conditions that lead to frostbite and hypothermia. They can also cause damage to unsupported structures and homes.

Dense Fog Advisory: Issued when fog will reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less over a widespread area.

Wind chill: The wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin by combined effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Animals are also affected by wind chill.

Information source: The National Weather Service