Get your snowstorm smarts on: 8 forecast tools to use this winter

UPDATED: January 12, 2021. A new, updated version of this article has been published. Please see

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 on December 21.

You're going to need more than warm outerwear to outsmart winter weather. Try our 8 online tools to use before stepping out.

You're going to need more than warm outerwear to outsmart winter weather. Try our 8 online tools to use before stepping out. (Image credit: iStock)

We’ve got 8 winter weather forecast tools you can tinker with on your mobile device or computer. Use them regularly to see where, when and how much snow, ice and wind is predicted:

1. One-stop shopping for all your forecast needs

Feeling the [wind] chill? At, you can plug in your Zip Code in the upper left-hand window, click “go,” and get the 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. Hourly Weather Graph

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

3. Day 1–3 Snowfall Probability Forecasts

This tool provides an excellent snapshot of what the next few days might have in store for your neck of the winter woods.

4. Day 4–​7 Winter Weather Outlook

Or take a look farther down the road: You can identify large-scale storm systems many days in advance with this outlook.

5. Snow Accumulation Potential  

We’re expanding this tool to 77 locations in the country this year. It can tell you the range of potential snowfall amounts from oncoming winter storms.

6. Winter Storm Severity Index

Want to know how a snowstorm might impact your area? This experimental index provides local officials and the public with a storm’s expected severity level and its potential related impacts. Use it to make more informed decisions regarding your travel and outdoor activities.  

7. Snow Squall Warnings

Thanks to better observations from satellites, Doppler radar, improved forecast models and increased supercomputing capacity, we developed a new life-saving alert to give you notice about dangerous snow squalls that might pop up.

8. Snow Coverage Maps

Calling all ski and snowboard bums: We have a little-known weather service office way up in Chanhassen, MN, that monitors total snow and ice cover in the U.S. If you need help figuring out where to go for some great powder, our maps will point you in the right direction.

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

When it snows, we’d like to know! Sign up offsite link to report snowfall amounts. The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network needs volunteers offsite link to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow).

What’s the secret behind the cold, white stuff? Check out our story, How do snowflakes form? Get the science behind snow.