Wind, Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Hazard Overview

Winter Storm

The types of Severe Winter Storms are the definitions used in the warnings NWS provides for this hazard type.  A life-threatening winter storm with snow, ice, strong winds, and/or cold temperatures. 

  • Heavy Snow is 6 inches of snow or more in 12 hours; or 8 inches of snow or more in 24 hours 
  •  Ice Storm: Ice accumulations that could cause extremely dangerous conditions and significant damage.
  •  Blizzard: A severe winter storm with winds 35 mph or greater AND significant snow or blowing snow with visibility less than 1/4 mile.


Severe Thunderstorms

Must have at least one of the following:

  • Wind gusts of at least 58 mph or higher, i.e., 50 knots
  • Tornado
  • Hail that is 1 inch or larger, i.e., the size of a quarter.

National Weather Service issues warnings when the winds from a thunderstorm are expected to be 58 mph (50 knots) or higher.


Tornado

A violently rotating column of air touching the ground, usually attached to the base of a thunderstorm.


Severe Wind

Severe wind is a more troubling issue for Kentuckians than tornadoes. Straight-line winds are more frequent and do more damage ingloriously than tornadoes.


Link to the State Hazard Mitigation PlanWind, Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Risk Assessment.


Winter Storms Advice

If the weather outside is frightful, make sure you’re prepared to safely brave snow, ice, and other winter weather hazards.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe:

Pay attention to watches and warnings.  A Winter Weather Advisory is issued for snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle and sleet that will cause inconveniences and can be hazardous if you’re not cautious.  A Winter Storm Watch is an alert to the possibility of a blizzard or snow, freezing rain, or sleet that could be heavy.  It’s issued 12 to 48 hours before a winter storm.  When a Winter Storm Warning is issued, heavy snow, freezing rain or sleet is expected soon or may be occurring already.  These warnings usually come out 12 to 24 hours before the storm. 

Sign up for your community’s warning system.  The Emergency Alert System and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.

Stock up before the storm.  You may not have to deal with crowds at the grocery store when a storm warning is issued if you already have a supply of water and food that doesn’t need to be cooked if you lose power.  Make sure you also have flashlights and extra batteries.  Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home’s doors and windows.

Limit your time outside.  Stay off the roads if possible.  Keep your car’s gas tank full and keep an emergency kit that includes a blanket in your car.  If you need to go out, wear layers of warm clothing.

Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermiaFrostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers and toes.  If it occurs, go to a warm room, and soak the affected part in warm water.  Do not massage or use a heating pad.  Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature.  A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency.  Signs include shivering, exhaustion, slurred speech, or drowsiness.  In a warm room, warm the center of the body first and wrap in warm blankets, including the head and neck.