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NWS releases statement timeline of storm advisories

1:47 AM, Jan 31, 2014   |    comments
A Tweet and map issued by the National Weather Service early Monday that suggested significant winter weather precipitation Tuesday.
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(WXIA) - Given the level of criticism levied against weather forecasters on the heels of this week's monumental winter storm, the National Weather Service's Peachtree City office has published a full list of when they issued their advisories.

The initial Winter Storm Watch was released at 3:12 Sunday afternoon, and three minutes later the initial briefing was emailed to government officials and media outlets. The watch was initially for central Georgia and the south Atlanta metro area. Winter Storm Watches are ordinarily issued up to 36 hours prior to the beginning of the storm's affecting a specific area.

By early Monday morning, the Winter Storm Watch was expanded to include all of metro Atlanta. Later in the morning - at 8:35 - NWS forecasters issued a Tweet that suggested that Tuesday's rush hour would set the stage for "significant snow." - "Conf increasing for significant snow moving in rush hour Tues. Don't wait to make plans for work/school"

Wednesday afternoon, another Tweet was issued that even suggested staying off the roads: "Winter precip will make travel risky across GA midday Tues into Weds. Not a bad idea to stay off the roads if you're able!"

At 3:22 Monday afternoon, a Winter Storm Warning was issued for central Georgia and the south Metro areas. The Winter Storm Watch remained in effect for the rest of the metropolitan area. Monday night, the storm watch was upgraded to a Winter Weather Advisory, which pointed out that "even a slight shift in the moisture could result in significant differences in snow amounts and require an upgrade to a warning."

At 3:39 Tuesday morning, the Winter Storm Warning was issued for all of Metro Atlanta to go with the warning for central Georgia. By 1:12 p.m., all of north Georgia - including the mountain counties - were upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning.

Weather Service officials said a Winter Storm Watch is issued when there is a 50 percent or greater chance of conditions favorable for a significant winter storm can strike an area within 36 hours. That criteria must have one of the following conditions in evidence: 2 or more inches of snow expected to fall within a 12 hour period, or 4 inches or more within a 24 hour period. The requisite amounts are higher in the north Georgia Mountains.

A Winter Weather Advisory is issued when there is an 80 percent chance of a winter weather event which could cause a significant disruption. A Winter Storm Warning is issued when 2 or more inches of snow are expected in a 12 hour period or 4 or more inches are expected within a 24 hour period. Other elements that may be present to trigger a winter storm warning include a half-inch or more of sleet or a quarter-inch or more of freezing rain.

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