What makes snow squalls so dangerous?

Date: 2021-11-16 23:37:02

It is snow squall awareness week, and the National Weather Service and state officials teamed up to provide information about alerts and warnings.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Temperatures are falling and winter is right around the corner, meaning snow is in the very near future. 

Typical snowstorms cause headaches on the roads and in the airports.

However, there are other scenarios involving snow that can have a more dangerous, even life threatening, effect. 

One of these scenarios are called snow squalls.

They are described as intense, short-lived bursts of heavy snowfall. Snow squalls normally accompanied by gusty winds.

While they don’t come with hours of whiteout conditions, snow squalls can sometimes be even more dangerous than your typical nor’easter.

This is because snow falls so fast that treated roadways are unable to melt the snow, turning it to ice. 

Visibility also typically drops significantly, as snow can pile up to more than two inches in a half an hour.

So, what happens if you do get caught in a snow squall?

Meteorologist Greg DeVoir from the National Weather Service says pulling over might not always be the best option.

“No sudden movements; put on your flashers, slow down,” DeVoir says. “If you aren’t in a safe place where you cannot get well off to a side of the road, just continue with the flow of traffic.”

Of course, the best way to stay safe is to avoid driving completely in a snow squall. That’s the message the National Weather Service is trying to spread through alerts.

Snow squall warnings will now be sent automatically to your phone if you are in the path of one through the Weather Emergency Alert System, also known as WEA. 

This will be very similar to a tornado warning or a flash flood warning, and will only be sent between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.

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