Winter Weather Safety

Winter Weather

Winter Weather Safety

Please make sure you clear your sidewalks and fire hydrants of any snow or ice that may block their use or that creates a hazardous situation.


Winter Storm Watch

Issued for the possibility of severe life-threatening winter weather conditions including: heavy snow, heavy ice and/or near blizzard conditions. Forecasters are typically 50 percent confident that severe winter weather will materialize when a watch is issued.

Blizzard Watch

Issued for the possibility of blizzard conditions. Forecasters are typically 50 percent confident that blizzard conditions will materialize when a blizzard watch is issued.

Wind Chill Watch

Issued for the potential of wind chills of -25F or less, which can cause rapid frostbite and increase the risk of hypothermia.

Winter Storm Warning

Issued for a combination of heavy snow and/or ice, of which, at least one exceeds or meets warning criteria. Winter weather is expected to cause life-threatening public impact for a combination of winter hazards including heavy snow, ice, near blizzard conditions, blowing and drifting snow and/or dangerous wind chills.

Heavy Snow Warning

Issued when 7 inches or more of snow is expected in 12 hours or less, or 9 inches or more is expected in 24 hours or less. Heavy Snow Warnings are issued when there is a high degree of confidence that the entire event will be snow.

Ice Storm Warning

Issued for a ½ inch or more of ice accumulation which causes damage to power lines and trees. Ice Storm Warnings are issued when there is a high degree of confidence that the entire event is expected to be ice.

Blizzard Warning

Issued when blizzard conditions are imminent or expected in the next 12 to 24 hours. Blizzard conditions include sustained or frequent gusts => 35 mph and considerable falling, blowing and drifting of snow reducing visibilities frequently 1/4 mile.

Wind Chill Warning

Issued when the wind chill is expected to be -25F or less. Frostbite can occur in less than 10 minutes.

Winter Weather Advisory

Issued for a hazardous combination of snow, and ice of which neither meets or exceeds warning criteria. Issued for winter weather that will cause significant inconveniences or could be life-threatening if the proper precautions are not taken.

Snow Advisory

Issued when an average of 4 to 6 inches of snow is expected in 12 hours or less. Snow advisories are issued when there is a high degree of confidence that the entire event will be snow.

Freezing Rain Advisory

Any accumulation of freezing rain that can make roads slippery. Freezing rain advisories will only be issued when there is a high degree of confidence that the entire event will be freezing rain only.

Snow and Blowing Snow Advisory

Sustained wind or frequent gusts of 25 to 34 mph accompanied by falling and blowing snow, occasionally reducing visibility to a 1/4 mile or less for three hours or more.

Blowing Snow Advisory

Widespread or localized blowing snow reducing visibilities to a 1/4 or less with winds less than 35 mph.

Wind Chill Advisory

Issued for wind chills of -15F to -24F. Frostbite can occur in less than 30 minutes.


Dressing For Cold Weather:

Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight clothing.
Wear mittens instead of gloves. Wear a hat.
Remember that entrapped, insulating air, warmed by body heat is the best protection from the cold.

Avoid Overexertion:

The strain from cold temperatures and heavy labor such as shoveling, pushing a car, or walking in deep snow may cause a heart attack.

Winterize Your Vehicle Early:

Avoid automobile gas line freeze ups by keeping your tank greater than half full at all times.
Make sure that your car has adequate antifreeze.
Make sure that your tires have good traction and are inflated to the right pressure.
Make sure that your heater and defroster work properly.
Make sure that your battery is not more than 3 years old and that it can carry a full charge.
Make sure that you have a good ice scraper.
Carry a Winter-Survival Safety Kit in your vehicle:
Bring along blankets
Flashlight with spare batteries.
Extra change of clothing to keep dry.
Non-perishable foods such as candy bars, canned goods, or high calorie food like Power Bars.
A can and waterproof matches (used to melt snow for drinking water).
A compass, shovel and sand, tow rope, and jumper cables.

Before traveling:

Check the latest forecast.
Check the latest road conditions before you head out into Winter weather.
Let someone know where you are going and when you think you will reach your destination.

If you become stranded in your vehicle during a Winter storm

Stay in your vehicle.
Run the engine at 10 minute intervals for heat.
Maintain proper ventilation by making sure the exhaust pipe is not plugged.
Leave the windows open slightly to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Make yourself visible to rescuers.
You can turn on the dome light at night, but only when running the engine.

Prepare your home for winter by doing the following:

Have your heating system checked and cleaned at regular intervals.
Make sure your home is properly insulated. Seal any windows that you suspect allow cold air into the house.
Wrap pipes with insulation and know how to turn off the water, should the need arise.
Include a home safety kit that includes extra non-perishable food, medicine, and a battery operated radio.

If you lose heat in your home:

Seal off any unused rooms by stuffing towels or rags in the cracks under the door.
Cover the windows with blankets or sheets at night if you have some extras available.
Use only devices that are designed for heating indoors during as emergency heat source and handle all safety precautions.