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Understanding the different types of winter events and their impacts on businesses



Prepare for winter challenges by implementing crucial strategies for safety, operational efficiency, and protecting the bottom line.

Key Highlights

Snow squalls are typically of short duration but can have a significant impact.

Ice storms can lead to power outages, fallen trees and hazardous travel conditions.

Heavy snowfall can accumulate rapidly during a blizzard, leading to significant snowdrifts and threatening structures and roadways.

As winter approaches, businesses must gear up for the challenges of various types of winter events. Effective weather preparedness and mitigation strategies are crucial for ensuring the safety of employees, maintaining operational efficiency, and protecting your bottom line. Here’s a look at the different types of snowstorms that businesses may encounter and how AccuWeather For Business can help you make the best decisions when snow threatens. 

Understanding Snow Squalls

Snow squalls are sudden and intense bursts of snowfall characterized by brief but heavy snow, often accompanied by strong and gusty winds. These weather events can rapidly reduce visibility and create hazardous driving conditions. Unlike more prolonged snowstorms, snow squalls are typically of short duration but can have a significant impact on local weather conditions.

During a snow squall, snowfall rates can increase dramatically within a short period, leading to the rapid accumulation of snow on roads and surfaces. The snow squall concern is heightened on interstates where speeds are typically higher, and visibility can drop to below 1/4 mile in seconds. Vehicles often do not have time to stop when drivers realize there is a crash a short distance ahead. Also, snow squalls can result in rapidly falling temperatures, increasing the risk of icy conditions. 

Navigating Nor’easters

A nor'easter, short for "northeaster," is a powerful storm that predominantly affects the northeastern United States, mainly regions of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. These storms are characterized by an intense low-pressure system forming along the East Coast, bringing cold air from the north and northeast.

Nor'easters commonly occur during winter but can manifest anytime throughout the year. They feature heavy precipitation, including rain, snow, sleet, or a mix of these, depending on factors such as the storm's track and atmospheric conditions. Nor'easters are notorious for their strong northeasterly winds, leading to coastal erosion, storm surges and high waves along the impacted coastline.

Ice Storms and Freezing Rain

Ice storms and freezing rain present unique and hazardous weather conditions characterized by the coating of surfaces with a layer of ice. Freezing rain occurs when raindrops encounter subfreezing temperatures near the ground, immediately freezing the liquid upon contact with surfaces.  A light glaze can be difficult to see on roads but can be just as impactful as several inches of snow and perhaps even more dangerous. Freezing rain is the most dangerous form of precipitation, turning roads and sidewalks into skating rinks.

These storms can lead to ice accumulation on roads, power lines, trees and other structures, posing severe challenges for transportation and infrastructure. The weight of accumulated ice can lead to power outages, fallen trees and hazardous travel conditions, making it imperative for businesses and communities to be well-prepared.

Dealing with Blizzards

Blizzards are severe winter storms characterized by strong winds, heavy snowfall and reduced visibility. These intense weather events can profoundly impact communities, causing disruptions to transportation, infrastructure and daily life. Blizzards typically occur when strong winds, often exceeding 35 miles per hour, blow snowfall across open areas, leading to drifting and reduced visibility. These factors create a whiteout effect, making it challenging for individuals to see and navigate during the storm.

Heavy snowfall can accumulate rapidly during a blizzard, leading to significant snowdrifts and threatening structures and roadways. The extreme conditions associated with blizzards make them particularly dangerous, requiring businesses and residents to take proactive measures for safety and preparedness.

The value of AccuWeather’s Snow Warning Service™

The value of AccuWeather's Snow Warning Service, with proven Superior Accuracy, can provide you with the most accurate forecasts and set you up to make the best decisions for your business. AccuWeather serves hundreds of businesses and has a 97% renewal rate. Our service cost is modest - while the payback is incredibly valuable to you.  

To make the best decisions every time, you need the Superior Accuracy of AccuWeather's Snow Warning Service. Study after study shows that AccuWeather provides the most accurate, precise and detailed forecasts, which give you an exclusive umbrella of protection. 

Independent studies show that AccuWeather’s forecasts are significantly more accurate and more valuable than all other sources. Last winter, AccuWeather’s average error for start and end times for snow and ice was just 1½ hours compared to an average error of more than 3 hours from other sources.

Virtually eliminate the chance of being surprised by snow and ice and turn winter challenges into profitable opportunities. Start making the best decision for your business this winter. Consult one of our experts today. 

Is your business winter-ready? 

Learn how AccuWeather's Snow Warning Service can help you make the best decisions this winter.