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November-December 2011

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Creating A Predictive Winter Storm Index

Of all types of storm systems, winter storms have the greatest impact on the highest number of people in the United States each year in terms of disruptions to travel and daily life. They generally cover a large geographic area, producing everything from snow to ice, wind, blowing and drifting snow, and low visibility, all of which can severely disrupt everyday tasks. Moreover, snow and ice associated with winter storms can affect just about every state in country.

Just as the Saffir-Simpson Scale helps people better understand what the potential impacts of a particular hurricane will be and thus be better prepared, a similar scale could be used for winter storms. Ultimately, a scale like this could even help save lives.

HENRY MARGUSITY is a senior meteorologist at Accuweather.

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