National Weather Service creates new warning for dangerous snow squalls

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A new warning will be issued by the National Weather Service for the first time this winter specifically for dangerous snow squalls.

A Snow Squall Warning will be issued for the following reasons:

  • White-out conditions with visibilities below 1/4 mile
  • Subfreezing road temperatures allowing quick build-up of snowfall
  • Dangerous and potentially life-threatening travel conditions

The Detroit National Weather Service office in White Lake is one of several that will issue Snow Squall Warnings.

Every winter, these fast moving bands of snow cause white out conditions as they cross Mid-Michigan.

Inside a snow squall, visibility can go from good to bad, and roads from clear to icy.

"It's very dangerous to motorists, people that encounter these snow squalls could end up getting in multi-car pile ups and actually it's one of the most deadly weather events that we have in the state of Michigan, more than tornadoes, more than flooding," explained Rich Pollman, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in White Lake that serves southeast Michigan.

In December 2016, a 53 vehicle crash on I-96 in Livingston County caused by a snow squall claimed the lives of 3 people.

With the potentially deadly impact of snow squalls, the National Weather Service realized they need to have an urgent alert for motorists.

"We really don't have a good advisory or warning in our current tool belt to warn people of the hazard, and this snow squall warning gives us that new tool to warn the public so they can slow down and hopefully save lives,” said Pollman.

They will be issued in a similar fashion to how a Severe Thunderstorm Warning or Tornado Warning is issued in the summer.

This means a polygon based system, not an entire county,will be highlighted and the NWS will be continually updating them in the same fashion.

It is being finalized to issue alerts through the Emergency Alert System, so you will get notifications immediately even if you are on the road.

These warnings will begin being issued for dangerous snow squalls starting January 3rd, 2018.

As always, stick with your NBC25 and FOX66 StormReady weather team when severe weather hits.

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