(WKBN) — The National Weather Service can send out Wireless Emergency Alerts to your phone in serious weather situations. These happen when your phone makes a loud emergency tone with text of a warning on the screen.

Wireless Emergency Alerts typically happen during tornado warnings or amber alerts. This winter, a change is coming to a Wireless Emergency Alert that can impact much of Northeast Ohio.

Snow squalls are a major winter weather hazard. According to the National Weather
Service, they are intense, fast-moving, and typically last under one hour.

Snow squalls can create white-out conditions and make roads icy in just a matter of minutes. Although snowfall totals can be small in a snow squall, their effects can be deadly on the road with a combination of gusty winds, reduced visibility and falling temperatures.

The National Weather Service will issue a Snow Squall Warning when one is expected in a localized area. However, moving forward, Snow Squall Warnings will have more specific qualifications before a Wireless Emergency Alert is issued.

Before this change, any Snow Squall Warning would be issued as a Wireless Emergency Alert.

Now, Snow Squall Warnings will be impact-based. The National Weather Service will have two tag classifications for these: “General” and “Significant.”

General Snow Squall Warnings

According to the National Weather Service, a Snow Squall Warning with the “general” tag will be issued during overnight hours or when snow squall conditions pose a threat to safe travel.

The threat to safe travel means snow squall conditions will cause drivers to reduce speed on roads and increase stopping distance.

General Snow Squall Warnings will not issue a Wireless Emergency Alert to your phone.

Significant Snow Squall Warnings

A Snow Squall Warning with the “significant” tag will issue a Wireless Emergency Alert to your phone.

According to the National Weather Service, a “significant” snow squall warning will be issued only when a snow squall poses a substantial threat to travel.

The substantial threat includes a snow squall that happens during busy travel times or in a vulnerable travel area.

Below are the general specifications for impact-based snow squall warnings from the National Weather Service.

Courtesy of the National Weather Service

As winter quickly approaches, it will be good to keep these parameters in mind when making travel plans. As the National Weather Service suggests, stop your travel and exit the road safely if you receive a Wireless Emergency Alert for a Snow Squall Warning this winter.