Get your snowstorm smarts on: 6 forecast tools to use this winter

December 21, 2016

Here’s a secret for you: At NOAA’s National Weather Service, we’re like kids when it comes to snow. We love it!  If you love snow like we do, become a “snow-it-all” in time for the winter solstice, which starts today.

Trekking through winter storm Jonas in Bronx, New York.

Geek out with us to learn about 6 winter weather forecast tools you can tinker with online. In the process, see where, when and how much snow, ice and wind is predicted — important information to share with your friends and family this winter:

1. One-stop shopping for all your forecast needs

The chilling temperatures of the polar vortex made a bold appearance in December, and many parts of the country have already seen significant snow. But winter is just gearing up. At, you can plug in your zip in the upper left-hand window, click “go,” and get a custom forecast for your location — including any local watches or warnings in effect — directly from your local forecast office (we have 122 of them across the country!).

2. Day 1-3 Snowfall Probability Forecasts

This tool provides an excellent snapshot of what the next few days might have in store for you.

3. Day 4-7 Winter Weather Outlook

Or, take a look further in time: You can identify large-scale storm systems many days in advance by using this tool.

4. Snow Accumulation Potential  

We’re expanding this tool to 44 locations in the country this year. It can tell you the possible range of snowfall amounts from oncoming winter storms.

5. Hourly Weather Graph

This awesome tool provides an hour-by-hour play of the forecast. If someone asks you “What time will the snow start falling?,” this should be your go-to resource for the answer.

6. Snow Coverage Maps

We have a little-known office way up in Chanhassen, MN, that monitors total snow and ice cover in the U.S. If you have a free weekend and need help figuring out where to go for some good skiing or snowboarding, these snow cover maps will point you in the right direction.

Finally: Whichever tools you use, arm yourself with the best data on which to make good decisions until the spring thaw. See our tips on how to stay safe before, during and after a winter storm.

Want to know more about how the cold, white stuff is created? Check out our companion story How do snowflakes form? Get the science behind snow.