Lethal storms usually are associated with tornadoes and hurricanes, the storms of the summer, but major winter storms can be just as deadly. Preparing for cold weather conditions and responding to them effectively can reduce the dangers caused by winter storms.
The types of winter storms include blizzards, blowing snow, snow squalls, snow showers, snow flurries, and ice storms. The Southeastern and Gulf Coast states usually are more likely to experience only ice storms or occasional snowfall but do not underestimate the risks associated with these events.
Snow showers are when snow falls at varying intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible. Snow flurries are light snowfalls for short durations with little or no accumulation. Ice storms usually occur when freezing rain or sleet is present.
When a winter storm warning is issued, take action, the storm is in or entering the area. Stay indoors during the storm. If you must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.
- Follow forecasts and be prepared when venturing outside. Major winter storms are often followed by even colder conditions.
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks.
- Keep your car’s gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must, carry a disaster supplies kit in the trunk. It’s best to postpone travel until conditions have improved. Roads may be blocked by snow or emergency vehicles.
- Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
- After a winter storm, continue listening to local radio or television station or a NOAA Weather Alert Radio for updated information and instructions. Access may be limited to some parts of the community, or roads may be blocked.
- If you shovel snow, be extremely careful. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks. Avoid overexertion. Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of deaths during winter.
Winter Storm WATCH vs. Winter Weather ADVISORY vs. Frost or Freeze WARNING
There are different winter weather warnings to advise the public of adverse winter conditions.
If a Winter Storm WATCH is issued, be alert; a storm is likely.
A Winter Weather ADVISORY is issued when winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists.
A Frost or Freeze WARNING indicates below freezing temperatures are expected and may cause damage to plants, crops or fruit trees.