Picture of Icy Roads in Atlanta

Winter Weather


Are you prepared for a winter weather event? How do you keep your loved ones and your property safe during a winter storm?  

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding winter weather and tips on what to do when it affects you.


 

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How do I stay prepared for winter weather in Georgia?

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Watches, Warnings & Advisories - What do they all mean?

  • A Winter Weather Outlook is basically a “heads up” from the National Weather Service. When an outlook is issued, it means that there is a 30% chance or more that a winter weather event may occur within the next 7 days.
  • A Winter Storm Watch is issued when significant winter weather (i.e. 2 inches or more of snow, ½ inch or more of sleet, ¼ inch or more of freezing rain, or a combination of these events) is possible, but not imminent. A wide range of weather events can prompt a Winter Storm Watch so make sure to pay attention to what the watch is calling for specifically. A watch is typically issued 12 to 48 hours before the possibility of winter weather. This is the time to prepare.
  • A Winter Weather Advisory indicates that winter weather is imminent and may cause inconveniences; monitor media for your local impacts. A Winter Weather Advisory is issued up to 36 hours before an event where an 80 percent or greater chance of winter precipitation (i.e. snow, freezing rain/drizzle, sleet or blowing snow) is expected to cause inconveniences, but does not meet warning criteria. This is the time to put your winter weather safety plan into action.
  • A Winter Storm Warning is issued when a significant winter storm (i.e., 2 inches or more of snow, ½ inch or more of sleet, ¼ inch or more of freezing rain, or a combination of these events) is imminent and is a dangerous threat to life and property. A Winter Storm Warning can also be issued at forecaster and emergency manager discretion when significant impacts are expected but snow, sleet, or freezing rain criteria is not met. These warnings are typically issued up to 36 hours before an event that has an 80 percent or greater chance of significant winter precipitation. This is the time to put your winter weather safety plan into action.

Get detailed National Weather Service product definitions.

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What's the official forecast for Georgia this winter?

U.S. Winter Outlook for Temperature & PrecipitationThe Climate Prediction Center issued the following forecast for the upcoming United States Winter on October 15th, 2015:

The official forecast calls for the State of Georgia to generally be cooler and wetter than average for the months of December, January, and February. This forecast is based on the El Niño climate pattern that is currently in place. It is among the strongest on record and is expected to influence weather and climate patterns this winter by impacting the position of the Pacific jet stream. Many other factors will influence the nation's weather patterns, making cold-air outbreaks and snowstorms likely this winter. However, the frequency, number, and intensity of these events cannot be predicted on a seasonal timescale.

FEMA has created an El Niño resources page​ that provides the best and most current information and resources needed to be ready for El Niño.​​​​​