Winter storm comes in advance of Winter Weather Awareness Week
This weekend's weather dip comes as a prelude to Winter Weather Awareness Week, scheduled for Monday through Nov. 6 for North Dakota and Nov. 9-13 in Minnesota. The weather service will be providing daily winter weather tips at www.crh.noaa.gov/fgf.
This weekend's weather dip comes as a prelude to Winter Weather Awareness Week, scheduled for Monday through Nov. 6 for North Dakota and Nov. 9-13 in Minnesota. The weather service will be providing daily winter weather tips at www.crh.noaa.gov/fgf .
Winter weather too often catches people unprepared. Researchers say 70 percent of the fatalities in winter occur in automobiles, and about 25 percent of all winter-related fatalities are people caught out in major storms, which can last for several days.
Capt. Kevin Robson of the North Dakota Highway Patrol said motorists and others need to take warnings seriously, noting several deaths the past few years when people left their vehicles in snowstorms.
What to listen for
Watches, warnings and advisories are weather service terms to describe what weather we can expect in the coming months.
- A winter storm watch means that severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, may affect our area, but where and when are still uncertain. A watch is issued 12 to 36 hours in advance so people can plan ahead.
- A watch is upgraded to a winter storm warning when 4 or more inches of snow or sleet is expected in the next 12 hours, 6 or more inches in 24 hours or one-fourth-inch or more of ice.
- Winter weather advisories mean watch for hazardous, slippery conditions. Caution should be exercised.
- A blizzard warning means that snow and strong winds will produce near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill.
Meteorologist Dave Kellenbenz said a weather radio is a worthwhile investment at $30 to $50.
Have a winter weather survival kit in your vehicle with warm clothing, blankets, food, water, matches, shovel, tow rope, booster cables and a flashlight.
Winterize your vehicle. Make sure your battery, anti-freeze, winter tire pressure, oil and alternator belt are up to specifications, local mechanic Ray Franks said.
Keep your gas tank full, avoid traveling alone and let someone know your timetable and route.
Road information for North Dakota may be found on the Internet at www.dot.nd.gov/travel-info/ , and for Minnesota at www.hb.511mn.org/main.jsf . Road conditions are also available on your cell phone at 511.
Keep your cell phone charged.
"If you're stranded in a storm, call it in," Robson said. "There's technology to triangulate the cell phone signal and we will find you."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency advises to keep home pipes insulated, know how to shut off water valves in case they burst and hire a contractor to check to see if your roof can sustain heavy snow.
The American Red Cross says if you're caught out in a storm, stay dry and cover any exposed body parts.
If you're outside, build a shelter and a fire.
If you're in a vehicle, stay with your vehicle. Run the motor 10 minutes each hour for heat. Open the window a crack for fresh air and to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
If you're inside, stay inside. Close off unneeded rooms and seal windows and door cracks. Avoid dehydration.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is forecasting warmer-than-average temperatures for December through February in the north central states from Montana to Wisconsin. That doesn't mean it won't be cold.
"Even if we are above normal for temperatures and below normal for precipitation, there will still be significant winter storms and significant cold snaps," Kellenbenz said.