Winter Weather Awarness

Every season brings about a new set of challenges when it comes to the weather. It seems with every approaching cold front we are told to beware the plunging jet streams and massive snows.

As we approach the Holiday and the heart of the winter months, here are some simple reminders of how to keep yourself and your families safe. We will also define some of the more common winter weather terms and give you the tools you need to get through the long winter months.

WATCH vs WARNING

It does not matter if it is winter, spring, summer or fall, friends and family alike always ask what the difference is between a weather watch and a weather warning. In the winter, there are three main advisories you need to be aware of: Winter Storm Warning, Winter Storm Watch, and Winter Weather Advisory.


According to the National Weather Service, a Winter Storm Warning means you should take immediate action because a winter storm is either imminent or occurring. If you should receive an alert your area (or county) has been issued a warning, this means you should shelter in place until it is safe for you to travel again. If you are at home, you should bring in your pets and plan to stay inside until you are told it is safe to leave your home or shelter. Keep in mind, blizzards, extreme cold, and windchill can become deadly if caught outside.
A Winter Storm Watch is warning you to be prepared conditions are favorable for specific winter weather hazards to occur. This does not mean the weather is going to occur, it simply means conditions exist where the weather could occur and you should plan ahead. Some tips are to check on isolated family members or friends, bring in firewood, stock up on necessary supplies, etc.
Another type of severe weather alert is the Winter Weather Advisory. This warning is issued when conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and hazards. You should use caution when outside in these conditions to remain safe.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Most people correlate the winter with cold and snow. It is not quite this simple. There are other factors in the winter which affect our weather as well.
One of the most dangerous conditions to drive in is freezing rain. Freezing rain occurs when rain falls to the ground and freezes on contact covering the ground, roads, and everything in between. This occurs because the upper atmosphere is warmer than the air temperature and ground temperature around us. Sometimes the air is so cold on the way down, it turns to ice pellets known as sleet.
The wind chill factor is another concern in the winter. Wind chills are when the wind causes the air to feel colder than the actual air temperature. The lower the wind chill, the greater the risk. If there is a wind chill advisory or warning issued, you should ensure you and your family are properly dressed to be outside. No skin should be exposed as frostbite is a great concern.
Flooding can also be an issue in the winter. Often an area will see a snowstorm and then a couple days later the temperatures will rise just above freezing which causes melting of the snowpack. Those who live in vulnerable areas should pay attention to any flood watches and advisories issued and protect your property before potential flooding exists.
A Nor’Easter is a significant weather event which occurs along the eastern United States seaboard. It is often a combination of extremely heavy snow, wind, and rain and can affect several people at one time.

SAFETY FIRST

The American Red Cross (www.redcross.org) suggests the following tips for remaining safe this winter season.
If you get stuck in the snow:
Stay in the car
Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna of the car
Start the car and run the heater for 10 minutes every hour until help arrive, but ensure the exhaust remains clear
Leave the overhead light inside the car on when the car is running to help rescuers locate you
Keep one window which does not face the wind slightly open to allow air to come in
If you must be outside during a storm:
Cover all exposed skin – wear a warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves, and proper shoes or boots
Walk carefully on snow or ice-covered surfaces
Be careful when shoveling snow and do not overexert yourself as this could be dangerous to your health
Understand the danger of low wind chills
Seek medical attention if you have symptoms of hyperthermia
Also seek medical attention if you have signs of frostbite.


If you are at home:
If the power goes out, be sure you have a backup generator or use flashlights – do not use candles
Bring your pets inside
Prevent frozen pipes by opening cabinet doors and allowing cold water to drip from the faucets
Keep your thermostat set to a consistent temperature
Check your smoke alarms once a month
Do not overload your electrical outlets

Suzi House
Suzi House

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