The thought of glistening lawns and trees, crowned in the season's
first snow comes to mind. Many people wait in anticipation for this
moment, but depending on the location, winter can manifest itself
in many different ways. For those people living in the southern states,
snow, sleet, and freezing rain are rare occurences, a freak of nature
in some cases, such as in Southern Florida. On the opposite end of
the spectrum are the northern states with frequent blizzards, and
sometimes mountains of snow. But whether you live in the North, the
South, the East, or the West, winter weather is always a possibility.
If one is not prepared for it, winter weather can be very dangerous,
of lives are lost each year due to exposure to cold alone, not to
mention the number of people that lose their lives in traffic fatalities
caused by ice and snow on roadways. Major winter storms have the ability
to paralyze cities, and even regions, for days, weeks, or even months.
Ice and heavy snow coat roads and walkways, snap trees and power lines,
and can even collapse the roofs of houses and other buildings. Large
amounts of melting snow can also cause flooding. These are just a
few of the dangers winter weather can bring to a region. It is very
important to be prepared ahead of time, should a major winter storm
strike. Please read this page and its accompanying pages cafefully.
Winter weather comes
in many different forms, including low temperatures, snow, ice, sleet,
freezing rain, and often blustery wind. Severity of winter weather
varies depending on the location. A few inches of snow in the south,
could be considered a major winter storm, whereas, in many northern
states a few inches of snow is a daily event. Never-the-less, all
winter weather should be taken seriously, and people need to be aware
of every possible weather condition.
are three types of winter precipitation: snow, sleet, and freezing
rain. Snow occurs when rain freezes within a cloud, and falls to the
ground in this frozen form, one or a grouping of many tiny ice crystals.
Sleet is snow that melts when it falls through a patch of warmer air.
It then refreezes, as it hits cooler air, hitting the ground as small
ice pellets. Freezing rain occurs when the falling snow meets a warm
air mass, melts, and hits the ground as rain. Oftentimes refreezing
on the surface of the ground and other objects due to their colder
temperatures. A layer of ice is the result, making even walking treacherous.
One of the most serious winter weather
conditions is the blizzard. Many people believe the blizzard to be
large accumulations of snow accompanied by wind. This, in fact, is
true, but snow fall is not what actually defines a blizzard. It is
the wind. A blizzard warning can be issued when winds, 35 MPH or greater,
and snow (many times snow that has already fallen, and is being lifted
back into the air) create low wind
chills (what the outside temperature actually feels like when
wind is factored into the equation), and white out conditions (visibility
of less than 1/4 mile). Blizzard conditions are life threatening,
and people should take shelter in a well insulated structure.
of these types of winter weather can develop into very serious situations.
People should stay informed of changing weather conditions through
their local TV and radio stations. Winter weather advisories, winter
storm watches and warnings, and blizzard warnings are all possible
forecasts that could be issued. Winter weather advisories announce
that winter weather is a possibility in a given area, and may cause
significant inconveniences and hazards. Winter storm watches are used
to alert the public of an impending winter storm that is expected
to hit the given area within 36-48 hours, hopefully allowing people
time to prepare for what could become a dangerous weather situation.
A winter storm warning indicates that a magor winter weather situation
is happening or will happen within the next 24 hours. People should
already be prepared and should be ready to take cover as weather conditions
All information from the "Winter Emergencies" collected
from The American
Red Cross and NWS/NOAA