The National Weather Service (NWS), along with the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Missouri Highway Patrol, and the Dept of Health and Senior Services have designated November 14, 2012 as Missouri Winter Weather Awareness Day.
Are you prepared for winter storms? As the Ozarks region has experienced, winter storms can be devastating. Winter Weather can change drastically across the Ozarks and southeastern Kansas within hours. The rugged terrain makes winter weather conditions even more treacherous.
A heavy accumulation of ice can down telephone poles and lines, trees, electrical wires, and communication towers. Power and communications may be disrupted for days. Heavy snow can immobilize the region and paralyze communities, stranding commuters, preventing the flow of supplies, and disrupting emergency and medical services. In rural areas, homes and farms may be isolated for days, and unprotected livestock may be lost. The crippling impact of a major winter storm was seen during the Blizzard of February 1st, 2011 and the Ice Storm of January 2007.
The time to prepare for winter storms is now! Check out these resources for more information on preparing disaster preparedness kits:
- Travel during the day, don’t travel alone, and keep others informed of your schedule.
- Stay on main roads; avoid back road shortcuts.
More safety information can be found at the following links:
Winter storms are considered deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. People die in traffic accidents on icy roads and from hypothermia due to prolonged exposure to cold.
During the historic ice storm of January 12-14, 2007 several indirect fatalities due to the extreme elements were documented. Carbon monoxide poisoning occurred within a few homes as gas generators were being used in garages, which allowed for dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to seep into houses.
Deaths related to ice and snow:
Deaths related to exposure to cold:
Cold Weather Disorders Which Require Immediate Medical Attention
Frostbite occurs when skin becomes cold enough to actually freeze. A loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in the extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the nose are symptoms of frostbite.
Hypothermia can occur during longer periods of exposure when the body temperature drops below 95F. A person will become disoriented, confused and shiver uncontrollably, eventually leading to drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. In severe cases, death is possible.
Children can be especially susceptible to the dangers associated with winter weather. Their youthful enthusiasm often takes over when common sense and safety should prevail. School administrators and principals need to be sensitive to the dangers winter weather can pose to children and be prepared. Winter weather procedures and practices need to be established before the onset of winter cold. The following items should be considered when formulating a winter weather safety plan:
All schools should have ready access to current weather information. If the school is in a county covered by NOAA Weather Radio, that would be the best source. Commercial radio or television can also be monitored. Arrangements can also be made with local law enforcement agencies to have critical winter weather forecasts relayed to the school. All schools need to have a functional plan in regard to closures due to snow, ice, or extreme cold.
School bus drivers should receive extra training on driving during winter weather. Snow and ice can often accumulate quickly and unexpectedly on roads creating dangerous driving conditions. Bus drivers should also be able to recognize signs of frostbite or hypothermia.
With many households having two working parents today, it may be necessary for some children to be brought to school early. Schools should make provisions to allow children inside school buildings as early as possible during cold weather.
Road Conditions & Safety
To avoid the dangers of winter storms:
Avoid over exertion
Wear layers of loose fitting warm clothing
Have a winter storm survival kit in your home and vehicles, and be sure to receive the latest weather information from the NWS.
Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage, or camper—or even outside near an open window.
Extreme cold is one of the leading weather related causes of death in Missouri. Since 1990, 130 lives have been lost due to extreme cold. An often overlooked danger is wind chill. The wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin by combined effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Animals are also effected by wind chill.
Source: Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). For more information on cold weather safety, statistics, etc, visit the DHSS website.
Since the DHSS surveillance program began in Missouri during the winter of 1979-1980, there have been 562 deaths in which hypothermia was a factor.
The wind chill shows how cold the wind makes exposed flesh feel and is a good way to determine the threat of frostbite or hypothermia. For a quick look at forecast wind chill, to our Wind Chill Page.
The combined effects of wind and temperature can be measured using the following Wind Chill chart. Click here for more wind chill information.
To advise you of hazardous winter weather, your National Weather Service will issue the following products . . .
Winter Storm Watch: Severe winter weather including heavy snow, ice storm, blizzard, dangerous wind chills, or a combination of these items. Issued 12 to 48 hours in advance.
Winter Storm Warning: Significant and possibly life-threatening severe winter weather will occur, or is about to begin. Issued within 12 to 18 hours of conditions. Including...
Ice Storm Warning: Heavy ice accumulation, generally greater than 1/4 of an inches thick, causing dangerous and damaging situations, such as downed utility lines and icy roads.
Blizzard Warning: Wind at least 35 mph with falling or blowing snow reducing visibility to under ¼ mile for at least three hours.
High Wind Warning: Wind gusts 58 mph and higher or sustained winds at 40 mph and higher, for at least an hour.
Wind Chill Warning: Wind Chill values colder than 25 below zero.
Winter Weather Advisory: Any combination of winter events that cause significant inconvenience, but probably not life-threatening when caution is exercised. Including...
Wind Chill Advisory: Wind chills of 15 below to 25 below zero.
Freezing Rain Advisory: Light ice coating on roads and highways, but no damage is expected to trees/power lines.
Wind Advisory: Sustained winds between 31 and 40 mph.
Dense Fog Advisory: Widespread fog with visibility under ¼ mile.
Hazardous Weather Outlook daily at 6 AM & 1 PM to highlight the potential of hazardous weather including winter storms, severe storms and flooding.
See the graphical hazardous weather outlook.
Cloud temperature is cold enough to form snow and the air above the ground does not melt it.
Flurries: Light snow falling for short durations. No accumulation.
Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorist.
Rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars, and roads, forming a coating or glaze of ice. Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard.
Take a look at Snowfall Statistics for Springfield, Joplin, West Plains and Rolla. Snowfall total maps from the past five winters.
GIS Snowfall Data
For a look at daily snowfall across the country go to the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center. This interactive site allows you to view a varitey of snowfall data including snow depth that can be viewed in GIS viewers. For more information on available GIS data go to www.weather.gov/gis.