Winter storms can affect many parts of the U.S. and in varying levels of severity. Sometimes, the snowfall can last for a few hours, and others can evolve into a blizzard with wind-driven snow lasting for several days. And when those winter storms arrive, they can have different names, depending on its location.

The Alberta clipper storm moves in the southeast from Alberta, Canada through the Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes. This type of storm brings light snow, strong winds and extremely cold temperatures, and has been known to strike in locations not prepared for such weather events, such as Southern California. In the Midwest, winter storms (also known as snowstorms) and extreme cold can strike between mid-October to April, but mainly occurring from December to February. There are also Nor’easters, coastal storms bringing heavy rain or snow, powerful winds, and coastal flooding, that frequent to northeastern U.S. border between September and April.

Exposure to rapid snowfall and dropping temperatures create a higher risk of dangers to both people and property. It’s a good idea to develop a winter storm and extreme cold action plan for your business and home. Prepare yourself with our winter storm and extreme cold preparedness guide and resources.

Winter Storm Prep and Claims Resources

Claims Resources for Home & Property

Winter Storm Basics: Understanding Storm Types and Warnings

Winter storms need three key elements to form. The first is cold air, as below-freezing temperatures in clouds and near the ground are necessary to form snow and/or ice. The next is a lifting force to raise the moist air to form clouds and cause precipitation. The final element is moisture, which forms the clouds and precipitation. The air blowing across a body of water, such as a large lake or ocean, provides the moisture needed for a large snowstorm. With the addition of high rains, winds and position to the lakefront, these can all help form the type of winter storm.

Winter Storm Descriptions

Any area prone to massive snowfall, extreme cold and high winds offers the possible threat of a dangerous snowstorm. Freezing rain, sleet and wind chill are all key elements that make up a winter storm. View the chart below for an understanding on the different types of winter storms.

Understanding Winter Weather Alerts

At the beginning of a snowstorm, the National Weather Service will issue alerts based on local weather criteria. Our table below outlines the differences between the types of warnings, advisories and watches.

Winter Storm Wind Chill Chart

The NWS Wind Chill Temperature (WCT) index utilizes technology and computer modeling to provide an accurate formula for calculating the dangers of winter winds and freezing temperatures. Wind chill is the temperature of how cold people and animals feel from the heat loss from skin exposed to the elements. As the wind increases, it draws heat from the body, driving down skin and internal body temperature and making it feel colder than the actual temperature. This chart helps calculate the body temperature to time to frostbitten skin from the wind threshold and time elapsed within the elements.


Essential Resources for Winter Preparedness

Bookmark these recommended informational sources to help prepare and recover from a winter storm or extreme cold disaster. These are national resources and are not associated with Gallagher.