DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The National Weather Service will soon begin testing a new snow squall warning system designed to help motorists in whiteout conditions avoid chain reaction crashes at high speeds.

During the winter, the agency now issues advisories and warnings involving storms that can last for a day or two over a wide area.

Snow squalls, however, occur over a much smaller area and typically dissipate after no more than hour.

“It’s going to be for these quick bursts of snow that last more than 15 minutes and start to cover over the road,” Mark Torregrossa, Chief Meteorologist for MLive explained in an interview with WWJ. “Maybe the road has a falling temperature to it and it can ice up real quickly. It’s the kind of thing that causes these big pileups in Michigan.”

[Learn more about snow squalls]

According to David Soroka, head of winter programs for the NWS, the system being tested would provide warnings for a smaller geographic area — similar to summer thunderstorm warnings — in areas that have been prone to snow squalls.

The warning system will be tested in areas of New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wyoming and Michigan, beginning January 3.

“We have more deaths and injuries from (snow squalls) than any other kind of severe weather here in Michigan,” Torregrossa said. “I think it’s something that’s really needed. The question is, in my mind, how will it get to the person in the car that needs to know it? And I think it’s going to be incumbent upon radio stations like yours and weather apps.”

In addition, testing will be done in Arizona on a new warning system for dust storms, which can cause similar problems for motorists.

© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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