Winter Weather Awareness Day
November 13, 2013

Definitions | Preparation | Additional Links

 

The National Weather Service Office in San Angelo.
While not known for winter weather, West Central Texas does experience occasional impacts from hazardous winter precipitation events.  While these events are relatively rare, it is good to have plan of action when it comes to winter weather. Here are some things you can do to have a good plan:

  1. Check the weather forecast before you travel and have a way to receive NWS Winter Storm Warnings

  2. Monitor temperatures and visibilities

  3. Drive according to the condition of the highway

  4. Practice safe fire prevention

  5. Assemble a disaster kit

Each year Texans die from accidents caused by ice, snow, or fog. The Texas Department of Public Safety urges motorists to slow down to the conditions of the roadway. Motorists should not assume the speed limit is the safe speed. For road conditions, please go to the Texas Department of Transportation’s website www.drivetexas.org call 1-800-452-9292. But first, it's important to understand the different types of winter weather warnings and advisories issued by the National Weather Service, so you can know what to expect.  Some of the most likely warnings and advisories are listed below.

Watches - Hazardous conditions are possible.  Maintain vigilance.
Blizzard Watch Conditions are favorable for blizzard conditions to be met in the next 12 to 48 hours. 
Winter Storm Watch Conditions are favorable for local winter storm criteria to be met within the next 12 to 48 hours. 
Wind Chill Watch Conditions are favorable for dangerous wind chill readings to occurr during the next 12 to 48 hours.
Warnings - These situations are potentially life-threatening
Blizzard Warning Bilzzard conditions are likely.  This means falling or blowing snow reducing visbilities to 1/4 mile or less and wind speeds of 35 mph for greater for at least 3 hours.
Winter Storm Warning Winter weather is expected to meet or exceed local criteria.  This includes heavy snow of 4 inches over a 12 hour period (6 inches in 24 hours) or 1/2 inch of sleet accumulation.  This may also include a combination of heavy snow, sleet and/or freezing rain.
Ice Storm Warning Freezing rain or drizzle is likely to result in ice accumulations of 1/2 inch or greater.
Wind Chill Warning Wind chill temperatures are expected to be less than or equal to -18 degrees Fahrenheit.
Advisories - If caution is exercised, these events should not threaten lives
Winter Weather Advisory Snow or sleet accumulations (or a combination of snow, ice and sleet) that are below warning criteria but may cause inconveniences in routine activies.
Freezing Rain Light accumulations of less than 1/4 inch of ice are expected from freezing rain or drizzle.
Wind Chill Advisory Wind chill temperatures are expected to be less than or equal to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Winter Storm In Lohn
A winter scene from Lohn.
 
Anson Winter Scene
Snow in Anson.
Winter Storm Deaths

Most winter storm fatalities are indirectly related to the storm.

Everyone is potentially at risk during winter storms. The actual threat to you depends on your specific situation. Recent observations indicate the following:

  • Related to ice and snow:
    • About 70% occur in automobiles.
    • About 25% are people caught out in the storm.
  • Related to exposure to cold:
    • 50% are people over 60 years old.
    • Over 75% are males.
    • About 20% occur in the home.

 

 

 

Preparing for Winter Weather

Winter Vehicle Safety Tips during Winter Weather

  • Plan your travel and check the latest weather reports to avoid the storm.
  • Patchy freezing drizzle or rain is deadly. When the temperature falls below 32 degrees, even a little mist, drizzle, or frost can create slick bridges and roadways. Slow down especially on overpasses and bridges.
  • When driving in low visibilities due to dense fog or snow, slow down and use your low beams.
  • Fully check and winterize your vehicle before you leave.
  • Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
  • Avoid traveling alone. Always drive to the conditions of the highway.
  • Let someone know your timetable and primary and alternate routes.
  • If you become stranded:
    • Never leave the safety of 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.
    • Be sure to keep your exhaust clear of snow as you’re keeping warm in the car.
    • Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine.
    • Tie a colored cloth, preferably red, to your antenna or door.
    • After snow stops falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.

Fire Safety

  • Each year people die in house fires and from carbon monoxide poisoning because of faulty heating sources. Be sure to place your emergency heat sources (fireplaces, wood stoves, and space heaters) in a safe place away from curtains and combustible materials.
  • Check fire extinguishers and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Don’t use equipment that can generate sparks outside especially when fire weather conditions are elevated or are occurring.
  • Refuel before you are empty since fuel carriers may not reach you after a winter storm.

Disaster Kit for your Home and when you Travel

  • Cell phone, charger, batteries, battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio
  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Knife
  • A 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day)
  • High-calorie, non-perishable food
  • Extra clothing to keep warm and dry (One change of clothing and shoes per person)
  • Large empty can to use as emergency toilet. Tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes
  • Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Sack of sand or cat litter for traction
  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Tool kit and tow rope
  • Battery booster cables
  • Water container
  • Compass and road maps
  • Extra cash
  • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members
  • Prescription medicines

On the ranch:

  • Move animals to sheltered areas. Shelter belts, properly laid out and oriented, are better protection for cattle than confining shelters, such as sheds.
  • Have a water supply available. Most animal deaths in winter storms are from dehydration.

 


Additional Links:

National Weather Service, Winter Weather Safety

Winter Storms, The Deceptive Killers (National Weather Service)

Texas Road Conditions

Texas Department of Public Safety Winter Storm and Ice Storm Preparedness

 


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