BINGHAMTON, NY – As we head into another Binghamton December, we already know to expect snowstorms.

We’re all familiar with the terms “Winter Storm Watch,” “Winter Weather Advisory” and “Winter Storm Warning” but what exactly do these terms mean?

The National Weather Service breaks down when each term is used.

Winter Storm Watch:

-This means conditions are favorable for a winter storm of some kind, that could be severe or threatening. 5 inches or more in a 12 hour period or 7 inches or more in a 24 hour period is typically when these will get sent out. Usually sent 24 to 72 hours before predicated storm.

Winter Weather Advisories:

-The next step up occurs when there is snow of 3-5 inches in 12 hours, when there’s less than a 1/2 inch of sleet, or when there’s freezing rain with sleet or snow.

If there’s blowing snow, an advisory could also be issued.

These are typically issued 12 to 36 hours before weather event but is expected to stay below warning criteria.

Freezing Rain Advisory:

-This will be issued when ice accumulation less than 1/4 inch.

Winter Storm Warning:

-A warning is the most serious of weather alerts. A Winter Storm Warning will be sent out when there’s heavy snow of 6 inches in 12 hours, of 8 inches in 24 hours. Sleet of 1/2 inch or more may also be a warning.

A watch becomes an advisory or warning when weather events are 80% or greater in possibility.

When a week looks particularly bad, the National Weather Service will use the term “Hazardous Weather Outlook.” More specifically, this is when the weather looks to cause significant impact in day 3 to 7 of the forecast which may lead to an issuing of a watch or warning.