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National Weather Service Glossary

This glossary contains information on more than 2000 terms, phrases and abbreviations used by the NWS. Many of these terms and abbreviations are used by NWS forecasters to communicate between each other and have been in use for many years and before many NWS products were directly available to the public. It is the purpose of this glossary to aid the general public in better understanding NWS products.

You can either type in the word you are looking for in the box below or browse by letter.

Heavy Snow
This generally means...
  • snowfall accumulating to 4" or more in depth in 12 hours or less; or
  • snowfall accumulating to 6" or more in depth in 24 hours or less

In forecasts, snowfall amounts are expressed as a range of values, e.g., "8 to 12 inches." However, in heavy snow situations where there is considerable uncertainty concerning the range of values, more appropriate phrases are used, such as "...up to 12 inches..." or alternatively "...8 inches or more...".