Winter Storm Safety Tips

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Winter can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, sleet, heavy snowfall, ice, and high winds. Storms can impact transportation, home heating, power, and communications. They also can close schools, stores, and workplaces. It can be difficult to stay warm. Are you ready?

Click on the below images to learn how to prepare for and stay safe during and after extreme winter weather.

How severe will the storm be?

The National Weather Service uses the terms below to convey the weather threat to the public. It's important to understand the difference between these warnings so you know what to do to stay safe.

Take immediate precautions if you hear these words on the news

Winter Storm Warning: Indicates heavy snow, heavy sleet, or a combination of winter weather hazards are highly likely or occurring. 6” of snow or more in a 12-hour period (or 8” of snow or more in a 24-hour period) are expected within next 12 to 36 hours. Stay indoors and adjust travel plans.

Ice Storm Warning: Heavy accumulations of ice (½ inch or more of freezing rain) will create extremely dangerous travel conditions, damage trees and likely cause extended power outages. Do not attempt to drive.

Blizzard Warning: Strong winds of 35 mph or greater will produce blinding snow and near-zero visibility, resulting in potentially life-threatening conditions, especially for travelers. Blizzard conditions can occur even with minimal accumulations of snow.

Other winter weather words to listen for

Winter Storm OUTLOOK: Winter storm conditions possible in the next two to five days. 

Winter Storm WATCH: Indicates severe winter weather, such as heavy snow or ice, is possible within the next day or two.

Winter Weather ADVISORY: Indicates snow accumulation of 2 to 5 inches, or a combination Winter Weatherof winter weather conditions which may cause significant inconveniences or be hazardous, especially to travelers.

Freezing Rain ADVISORY: Light accumulations of ice will cause hazardous travel.

Wind Chill ADVISORY: Dangerous wind chills of -15 degrees to -24 degrees.

WIND CHILL Temperature: How cold people and animals feel when outside. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from your body at a faster rate, driving down your body temperature and making you feel much colder. The wind chill temperature is not the actual temperature, but rather how wind and cold feel on exposed skin.