Winter storms have the capability to completely immobilize large areas of a state or several states simultaneously. Winter storms occur in several forms, such as heavy snow storms, blizzards, and ice storms. Each in its own way is a potential killer of hundreds of people whenever the storm strikes.
The National Weather Service issues forecasts for winter weather, using various key words. Knowledge of the definition of these words will help you better prepare for the upcoming winter season.
Types of Storms
Freezing rain or freezing drizzle is rain or drizzle occurring when surface temperatures are below freezing. The moisture falls in liquid form but freezes upon impact, resulting in a coating of ice or glaze on all exposed surfaces. This is often called an ice storm.
Sleet is sometimes incorrectly referred to as an ice storm. Sleet is frozen rain drops, ice pellets, which bounce when hitting the ground. Sleet does not stick to trees, but a sufficient depth can cause hazardous driving conditions.
Snow is probably the most significant winter weather phenomenon. Snow can be continuous, intermittent, flurries or if showery in nature, snow squalls. Snow squalls are brief, intense falls of snow for short durations and are comparable to summer rain showers. Blowing and drifting snow can occur together, due to strong winds and falling snow or loose snow on the ground.
The most dramatic and dangerous winter storm is the blizzard. Blizzards are characterized by low temperatures and by strong winds bearing large amounts of snow. Snowfall is usually present during the early stages of the blizzard. However, most of the snow in a blizzard is in the form of fine, powdery particles of snow which are whipped up from the surface in such great density that at times the visibility is only a few yards, creating a blinding condition.
Some Winter Safety Tips
Before the winter season begins, have your automobile winterized. Keep the gas tank full, check the tires, brakes, lights, battery, antifreeze, jumper cables, and give the car a tuneup.
During winter weather conditions, remember the following:
- Avoid all unnecessary travel.
- Plan all trips in advance, giving someone else the route.
- Allow plenty of extra travel time.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers.
- Cover your head, hands and face.
- Do not kill yourself shoveling snow
- Remember to also protect animals with shelter, water and food.