Winter Weather Information
WHAT IS A WINTER STORM?
Your storm can range from moderate snow over a few hours to Blizzard conditions with blinding, wind driven snow that lasts several days. Some winter storms may be large enough to affect only a single community. All winter storms are accompanied by low temperatures and blowing snow, which can severely reduce visibility. A severe winter storm is one that drops four or more inches of snow during a 12-hour period, or 6 inches or more of snow and a 24-hour span.
An ice storm occurs when freezing rain falls from clouds and freezes immediately on impact. All winter storms make driving and walking extremely hazardous. The aftermath of a winter storm can impact a community or region for days, weeks, and even months. Storm effects such as extreme cold, flooding, and snow accumulation can cause hazardous conditions and hidden problems for people in the affected area.
WINTER STORM WATCHES AND WARNINGS
Storm watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area. A winter storm warning indicates that severe winter weather conditions are definitely on the way.
A Blizzard warning means that large amounts of falling or blowing snow and sustained winds of at least 35 mph are expected for at least three hours.
DID YOU KNOW…
Cause of death during winter storms is from automobile or other transportation accidents. Exhaustion or heart attacks caused by overexertion are the second most likely cause of winter storm related deaths.
Fire during winter storms presents a great danger because water supplies may freeze, and it may be difficult for firefighting equipment to get to the fire.
Elderly people account for the largest percent of hypothermia victims. Many older Americans literally freeze to death in their homes after being exposed to dangerously cold indoor temperatures or are asphyxiated because of improper use of fuels such as charcoal brackets, which produce carbon monoxide.
Wind Chill is a calculation of how cold it feels outside when the effects of temperature and wind speed are combined. A strong wind, combined with a temperature of just below freezing can have the same effect as a still air temperature about 35 degrees colder.
Tips for Indoor & Outdoor Preparedness
Stay indoors and dress warmly.
Conserve fuel by lowering the thermostat to 65 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night. Close off unused rooms.
Avoid Frozen Pipelines
If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
Listen to the radio or television to get the latest storm information.
Wear loose-fitting, layered, light-weight clothing. Layers can be removed to prevent perspiration and chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens are warmer than gloves because fingers generate warmth when they touch each other.
Stretch Before You Go Out
If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. Also take frequent breaks.
Cover Your Mouth
Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary.
Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.
Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
Vehicle Winter Survival Kit
- 50 Feet of Rope
- Battery Booster Cables
- Blankets or Sleeping Bags
- Facial and/or Toilet Tissue
- Flashlight with Extra Batteries
- Matches in Waterproof Container
- One-Pound Coffee Can with Air Holes
- Pencil and Pad of Paper
- Piece of Wire (i.e. Coat Hanger)
- Plastic Trash Bags
- Pliers, Screwdrivers, Wrenches
- Raisins, Granola Bars, Hard Candy, Etc.
- Sand, Kitty Litter or Traction Mats
- Three-Pound Coffee Can with Lid
- Tire Chains
- Tow Chain/Cable or Strap
- Two-Pound Coffee Can with Lid
- Windshield Scraper/Brush
Winter Storm Facts
- Elderly people account for the largest percentage of hypothermia victims. Many older Americans literally "freeze to death" in their own homes after being exposed to dangerously cold indoor temperatures or are asphyxiated because of improper use of fuels such as charcoal briquettes which produce carbon monoxide.
- Fire during winter storms presents a great danger because water supplies may freeze, and it may be difficult for firefighting equipment to get to the fire.
- Ice storms can break power lines causing widespread blackouts.
- In March 1993, the Blizzard of '93 dumped record amounts of snow on an area that stretched from Alabama to New England. The storm left more than 170 people dead and caused hundreds of thousands of people to be without power for several days. Total damages were estimated upward of $800 million.
- The leading cause of death during winter storms is from automobile or other transportation accidents. Exhaustion or heart attacks caused by overexertion are the second most likely cause of winter storm-related deaths.