The winter season is upon us which means it is time to prepare your home, your farm, and your vehicle for the cold and snowy months ahead. Officials say the top two things that will keep you and your family safe during the winter are listening to local winter weather warnings, and getting your vehicle equipped with winter necessities in case you need to travel in the snow.
“The biggest issue is people not heeding the ‘no travel’ warnings,” Brown County Emergency Manager Scott Meints said about the most common winter emergencies his office encounters. “Most of these people are not prepared to be out in the storm and stranded.”
Listen to the Warnings and Advisories
The first step to winter safety is keeping an eye on the forecast. It is a good idea to prepare for winter weather before the storm hits your area. The National Weather Service issues several different watches, warnings, and advisories throughout the winter. The National Weather Service Office in Aberdeen shared a list of what the terminology means.
Winter storm and wind chill watches are issued before snowy or cold weather hits an area. Watches are meant to alert the public to prepare. When a winter storm watch or a wind chill watch are issued it means that there is a potential for heavy snow or subzero temperatures.
There are several types of warnings issued in the winter. When a warning is issued it means those conditions will likely be affecting the warning area within the next 24 hours. Here is a list of the common warnings that are issued in the winter.
Winter Storm Warning – Heavy snow of more than six inches is expected within the next 12 hours; or eight inches of snow is expected within the next 24 hours.
Blizzard Warning – Issued when wind speeds will be more than 35 miles per hour and there is falling or blowing snow. A blizzard warning is also issued when visibility is less than a quarter mile for more than three hours.
Ice Storm Warning – When ice accumulations of more than a quarter inch are expected.
Wind Chill Warning – When wind chills are expected to be below -35 degrees below zero with winds of five miles per hour or more for more than one hour.
The National Weather Service issues advisories when winter weather will have only a minor impact on day-to-day life.
Winter Weather Advisory – This advisory is for a snow event that is less than six inches and below the winter storm warning thresholds.
Wind Chill Advisory – When wind chills are between -25 degrees below zero and -34 degrees below zero for more than an hour.
Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter Travel
If you do have to travel during a winter weather warning or advisory it is important to be prepared. Here are some basic items everyone should keep in their vehicles according to the Brown County Emergency Management Office.
Blankets and warm winter clothing
Cellphone and phone charger
Non-perishable food and water
Flashlight and batteries
Meints said the best piece of advice is to never leave your vehicle if you become stranded in the winter. Your vehicle is your protection. And, even better advice is to not leave your home during a winter storm.
“Best advice is to stay home unless it is an emergency. Be prepared for the worst and make sure you have a survival kit,” Meints said.