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Winter Weather Awareness Week
December 3-7, 2012

Overview

Winter Weather Awareness Week for Georgia is December 2-7, 2012. The main threats from winter weather across the Southeast stem from ice storms, crop-killing freezes and occasional snow. Last winter (2011-2012), all 4 climate sites reported a Trace of snowfall (Atlanta, Athens, Macon, and Columbus). The coldest temperature between these 4 stations was 18°F recorded at Macon on January 14 and  February 13, 2012. We will have to wait and see what this year brings, however, the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting equal chances of it being cooler or warmer than normal and slightly wetter this winter season

Ice is one of the major winter weather problems across the Southeast. The accumulation of ice on trees and power lines can cause these items to topple. Communications can become disrupted and roadways can become blocked. Bridges and overpasses generally freeze before other surfaces. In addition, ice can form on the roadway and not even be visible to the driver - this is known as black ice. Durring the winter of 2010-2011 north and central Georgia witnessed such an event with the Snow and Ice Storm of January 9th and 10th.  It is important to have an emergency kit in case ice makes roadways hazardous and the transportation system becomes disrupted. More information can be found in Winter Storms: The Deceptive Killers.

Types of Winter Weather

NWS Watch & Warning Program

Be Prepared Ahead of the Storm

Safety...Caught in the Storm

Winter Weather Climatology

 

Wind Chill

Wind chill  takes into account how wind and cold feel on exposed skin rather than solely the actual temperature. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Animals are also affected by wind chill.

[ Wind Chill Chart. ]

Health Hazards

Frostbite and hypothermia are two health hazards associated with cold weather. According to NOAA's Winter Storms: The Deceptive Killers handout, frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by extreme cold. A wind chill of -20°F will cause frostbite in just 30 minutes. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately! If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm the affected areas. However, if the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities.

In NOAA's Winter Storms: The Deceptive Killers it is discussed how hypothermia is a condition that can kill and is brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 95°F. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Take the person's temperature and if below 95°F, seek medical care immediately.

Safety Information

It is important to have a safety kit both at home and in the car that can be used not only in winter weather situations but also for other emergencies. Ready Georgia provides a list of items to include in your emergency kit. The following safety tips are provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross.

If caught outside in a winter storm:

  • Try to find a shelter.
  • If no shelter is available:
    • Try to stay dry.
    • Cover all exposed body parts.
    • Build a fire for heat and to attract attention.
If stuck in a vehicle during a winter storm:
  • Stay in your vehicle.
  • Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat.
  • Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine to be visible to the rescuers.
  • Tie a colored cloth, preferably red, to your antenna or door.
  • After snow stops falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.
  • From time to time, move arms, legs, fingers and toes vigorously to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
If inside during a winter storm:
  • Stay inside!
  • When using alternate heat from a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc. use fire safeguards and properly ventilate.
  • If there is no heat:
    • Close off unneeded rooms.
    • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
    • Cover windows at night.
    • Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.
    • Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration and subsequent chill.
Winter Weather Products

Outlook

Product Conditions Expected
Winter Storm Outlook
Issued 3-7 days before an event for a 30% or greater chance of a hazardous winter weather event that may require a watch/warning in a later forecast. Issued via the Hazardous Weather Outlook (ATLHWOFFC) or Special Weather Statement (ATLSPSFFC).

Watch

Product Conditions Expected
Wind Chill Watch
Issued 12-48 hours in advance of an event for a 50% or greater chance of wind chill values of -18°F or less. Issued as ATLWSWFFC.
Winter Storm Watch
Issued 12-48 hours in advance of an event for a 50% or greater chance of conditions favorable for a significant winter storm (including heavy sleet, heavy snow, or ice storm). Winter storm conditions include 2 or more inches of snow in 12 hours (3 or more inches in northeast Georgia) or 4 or more inches in 24 hours, 1/2 inch or more of sleet, or 1/4 inch or more of  freezing rain. Issued as ATLWSWFFC.
Blizzard Watch
Issued 12-48 hours before an event for a 50% or greater chance of blizzard conditions. Blizzard conditions include sustained or frequent wind gusts of 35mph or greater and considerable falling and/or blowing snow reducing visibility to less than 1/4 mile for 3 hours or more. Issued as ATLWSWFFC.

Advisory

Product Conditions Expected
Winter Weather Advisory
Issued up to 36 hours before an event for an 80% or greater chance of a winter precipitation event (snow, freezing rain/drizzle, sleet or blowing snow) which causes inconveniences but does not meet warning criteria. Issued as ATLWSWFFC.
Wind Chill Advisory
Issued up to 36 hours before an event for an 80% or greater chance of wind chill values less than or equal to 0°F but does not reach warning criteria (less than or equal to -18°F). Issued as ATLWSWFFC.

Warning

Product Conditions Expected
Wind Chill Warning
Issued up to 36 hours before an event for an 80% or greater chance of wind chill values less than or equal to -18°F. Issued as ATLWSWFFC.
Winter Storm Warning
Issued up to 36 hours before an event for an 80% or greater chance of a winter weather event that meets at least one of these criteria: 2 or more inches of snow in 12 hours (3 inches in northeast Georgia) or 4 or more inches of snow in 24 hours, 1/2 inch or more of sleet, or 1/4 inch or more of freezing rain. Issued as ATLWSWFFC.
Ice Storm Warning
Issued up to 36 hours before an event for an 80% or greater chance of a 1/4 inch or more of freezing rain. Issued as ATLWSWFFC.
Blizzard Warning
Issued up to 36 hours before an event for an 80% or greater chance of sustained or frequent wind gusts to 35mph or greater and considerable falling and/or blowing snow reducing visibility to less than 1/4 mile for 3 hours or more. Issued as ATLWSWFFC.

 

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