Winter Weather: You’re Not As Ready As You Think You Are

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Winter is still over a month away but it felt like it arrived early across the Intermountain West yesterday as 2-6 inches of snow fell across the region. In addition to the snowfall, this weekend into early next week temperatures across portions of Montana and the Dakotas will be 20-35 degrees below average as a strong low pressure system moves over southern Canada. This will send very cold air southward.

Here’s a look at the 6-10 day time period. The blue represents the very cold air that will work its way southward later this weekend into early next week. Image: ImpactWeatherHere’s a look at the 6-10 day time period. The blue represents the very cold air that will work its way southward later this weekend into early next week. Image: ImpactWeather

It appears that winter has indeed arrived early across some parts of the country (well, at least in terms of snowfall and the very cold air expected this weekend), so it’s never too early to make your winter weather preparations! I’ll admit a lot of times I put it off to the last minute since I live in a city that rarely sees snowfall. However, when there’s the slightest inkling that we may see snow here in Houston it’s like a zoo in the grocery stores with everyone scrambling to get water, batteries and other supplies. I definitely don’t recommend waiting until the last minute, especially because there might not be a whole lot left at that point.

The threat of winter weather (as well as other weather events like hurricanes) can lead to a mad dash for the supermarket with supplies running out. Photo: SodaHead.comThe threat of winter weather (as well as other weather events like hurricanes) can lead to a mad dash for the supermarket with supplies running out. Photo: SodaHead.com

Also, if you wait to the last minute you might find yourself getting stuck in the icy weather. During the winter months I always make sure to keep a blanket in my car. A sleeping bag, extra clothes, a jacket, gloves, etc. would also be good to keep in your car at all times. Keep your cell phone charged and a flashlight and extra batteries in your car. It’s also a good idea to have a first-aid kit and keep your gas tank full. In my car, I always have a windshield scraper in case I need it, as well as booster cables and a tool kit. If you live in an area that sees winter weather frequently, it might be a good idea to carry a bag of sand or even cat litter in your car since they’re good for de-icing a roadway in case of emergency. However, the best thing to do is stay off the roadways!

What will you need at home? We’ll you definitely need a NOAA weather radio to keep up with the latest weather information including watches and warnings for your area, especially if the power goes out and you’re unable to tune into the local news. Also, keep your cell phones fully charged and know where all your flashlights are. Keep plenty of batteries of different sizes available to use whether they be for your radio, flashlight, etc. Make sure you have at least a week’s supply of non-perishable food, water, medical supplies, medicine and any other special items you may need (i.e. for babies or the elderly). If you have a fireplace, have plenty of wood available to heat your home. Keep plenty of warm clothes handy and have extra blankets to keep you warm, especially if the power goes out.

Photo: http://www.alaska-in-pictures.com

Well it’s definitely that time of year we all need to make our winter weather preparations and keep in contact with friends and loved ones during these events. FEMA offers other great tips on how to prepare for a winter storm or extremely cold weather. For safety tips after a winter storm occurs, visit the American Red Cross website.

For more information about preparing for winter storms, see here.

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