December 20, 2014

Weather Service, state agencies urge winter storm prep

The National Weather Service, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the State Emergency Management Agency want you and your family to be ready for winter.

The National Weather Service says the winter outlook that suggests Missouri will be warmer than usual, and dryer than usual in much of the state, doesn’t mean there won’t be any significant winter storms. (Photo courtesy, National Weather Service)

While the Weather Service is predicting a warmer than normal December through February in Missouri and dryer than normal conditions in the northern half of the state, that doesn’t rule out any severe winter storms.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jim Kramper says, “We’re always going to have variability. You may look at the three months and see things have been drier or warmer than normal … you still can get some cold periods, you can still get very wet periods. We can still get a couple of bad storms. It could be that one month is really bad … cold and wet and lots of snow … but then the other two months are dry and warm. That’s quite possible. You have to be prepared. We’re not going to have three months of constant nice weather.”

Kramper wants Missourians to understand the products his office issues. A winter storm watch is a long-term heads-up that winter weather is possible in an area, telling Missourians to watch the forecast and consider whether they need to change their plans for the affected timeframe.

A winter storm warning is a more immediate call to action.

“Typically within 12 hours, sometimes 24 when we’re really certain about the situation, but a warning means, ‘It’s coming. We really expect it to hit your area if you are in the warning,’ and that is when you really have got to think, ‘Alright, what do I need to do?'”

Life has been halted in recent years in parts of Missouri by ice storms. The Weather Service issues warnings when enough freezing rain is expected to create a quarter-inch of ice accumulation or more.

“That may not seem like a lot … but you get a quarter-inch of ice starting to accumulate on tree branches, power lines, and they can potentially come down … those can be really serious situations.”

Missourians are urged to create family emergency plans and emergency kits, have alternate fuel sources such as firewood or generators and a winter car kit. Find tips on these and other winter preparation at the following websites:

The National Weather Service St. Louis Office’s winter weather awareness page

The State Emergency Management Agency

The Missouri Ready in 3 program’s weather preparedness page and family safety guides

The Missouri Department of Transportation’s Traveler Information Map

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Winter Awareness Campaign

The National Weather Service Brochure Winter Storms: The Deceptive Killers