DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Prepare for hazardous weather during Winter Safety Awareness Week.

Last year Dayton recorded 30.4 inches of snow during the 2020-2021 season. We saw four winter storms in the region.

The first brought 2.7 inches of snow to Dayton and 6 inches to Bellefontaine on Jan. 30-31.

The second storm brought up to 10 inches of snow to the tri-state region on Feb. 8-9. A mix of wintry precip continued on Feb. 10-11 with ice accumulations nearing 4/10ths of an inch in northern Kentucky and around an inch of sleet and snow to the Dayton Metro.

The final storm produced 6.5 inches of snow and sleet at the Dayton airport. 10 inches of snow was recorded in Logan County at Lakeview on Feb. 15-16.

Winter storms can bring a combination of snow, sleet, freezing rain and bitter cold temperatures.

Meteorologist focus on the impacts of each of these to determine if a watch, warning, or advisory will be issued.

Here are the terms you need to know heading into the 2021-2022 winter season.

ADVISORY: Be Aware. The weather may cause minor issues, but does not meet the criteria for a warning.

WATCH: Be Prepared. Meteorologists are tracking the potential for inclement weather. The ingredients are there for a significant storm. This is the time to make sure you have your winter survival kit ready.

WARNING: Take Action. The inclement weather is here, or arriving very shortly. This is the time to get off the roadways and stay home. Be prepared to use your survival kit if necessary.

Different winter alerts are issued based on the temperatures, wind and precip type expected.


Travel may be difficult during the time frame set by the advisory. A winter weather advisory is issued for at least 3 inches of snow in 12 hours, less than 1/2 an inch of sleet, or ice accumulation under 1/4 an inch. Significant black ice and low visibility due to blowing snow may also require a Winter Weather Advisory to be issued.

In Warren, Butler and Clinton County a winter weather advisory will be issued for 2 inches of snow.

Over the last 20 years, the winter weather advisory is the product issued the most. In Dayton, only three seasons ending in March failed to accumulate at least three inches of snow in a day, 2012, 2016 and 2020. In 2000 and 2010 there were five days with more than three inches of snow between midnight and 11:59 p.m.


A winter storm watch is issued when it’s time to prepare for a significant event producing heavy snow, sleet or ice accumulation. This is the time to gather supplies you may need and plan your travel around the approaching winter storm.

WDTN has a list of important items you need to get ready for winter here.


A wind chill watch is issued ahead of an extreme cold event. This is the time to be prepared for dangerously cold temperatures and make sure you have the proper clothing if you have to spend time outside.


A wind chill warning will be issued when the forecast includes a feels like temperatures of -25 degrees or less with at least a 10 mph wind speed. It is best to avoid going outside during the time of the warning. Frostbite can occur in less than 30 minutes and hypothermia can happen quickly if precautions are not taken.

The National Weather Service offers the following tips to stay safe during cold weather:

  • Wear layers of loose-fitting and lightweight clothing
  • Avoid wearing cotton if you work outside
  • Wear a hat

You should also keep extra warm clothes, blankets, flashlights with extra batteries and snacks handy.


Winter storm warnings is issued when it’s time to take action. Be ready to stay home and delay travel plans. A significant amount of snow or sleet will create hazardous conditions. The forecast will include the potential for at least 6 inches of snow, 1/2 inch of sleet, or a combination of both in a 12 hour period or at least 8 inches of snow in 24 hours.

Warren, Butler and Clinton County will have a winter storm warning issued for 4 inches of snow over a 12 hour period and 6 inches in 24 hours.

A winter storm warning was issued last year for the winter storm on Feb. 15-16. 10 inches of snow was reported in Lakeview and Greenville.

This doesn’t happen as often as you think. Since 2000 there was just five day with snow accumulation more than six inches in Dayton.


Travel is extremely dangerous and may be impossible during an ice storm. A layer ice will be at least 1/4 of an inch thick. This much ice can result in widespread power outages due to falling tree limbs and powerlines breaking due to the weight of the ice.

An ice storm warning is rare with only three events accumulating more than a quarter of an inch in the Miami Valley since 2000.


Travel is nearly impossible during a blizzard. Snow banks may create an impassible blockade on the road. Falling and blowing snow will make it difficult to see with whiteout conditions making visibility less than 1/4 of a mile.

The Miami Valley has only seen one blizzard in the last 20 years. Dayton picked up a combined daily total of 13.1 inches. A blizzard must have visibility reduced to a quarter of a mile for at least three hours due to falling or blowing snow. Frequent wind gusts during the time are at least 35 mph.


A new warning was added for the 2018/2019 season. A snow squall warning will be issued for a quick burst of heavy snow with high wind. Travel will be extremely dangerous due to whiteout conditions and slick roadways.

In 2019 a 50 car pile up was caused by a snow squall in Iowa.