Perception is a huge factor broadcast meteorologists consider when delivering the forecast. Transitioning from "severe weather mode" to "winter weather mode" results in us switching to a completely different mind set - same weather game, different set of rules!
The WARN 6 Weather team tries to use the utmost discretion when addressing the potential for winter weather. For instance: there's a chance for a few snow flurries next Monday night and Tuesday morning. Theoretically the precipitation will be snow, however you, the viewer, may perceive the word snow to mean several inches of the white stuff. We, the meteorologists, denote the intensity of the precipitation by using the word flurries; meaning light, or brief. If we think the snow will be great enough to accumulate on the ground and other surfaces, we create a graphic displaying the forecast snow fall amounts.
There's also a certain hype involved with winter weather forecasting. At times, viewers and forecasters alike may get caught up in the inevitable swing of the computer models that forecast snow amounts. There are so many atmospheric processes that affect just how much snow falls, and sometimes the computer models drastically under, or over forecast snow amounts. It's up to the meteorologist to interpret this data; staying free and clear of "snowmageddon" - unless the situation warrants, and deliver the most accurate forecast possible.
So, what do you think of when you hear the word snow in the forecast?