Amid mild fall temperatures, it might be hard for some Missourians to get in the mindset of bracing for dangerous winter weather. But several state agencies are urging people to plan ahead.
The National Weather Service, the Missouri Department of Health, and the State Emergency Management Agency are joining forces to promote Nov. 16th as Winter Weather Awareness Day in Missouri.
Jim Kramper, warning coordination meteoroligist for the National Weather Service in St. Louis, says now is the time to stock up on emergency supplies and get a plan in order. Given the rapidity severe weather can crop up in Missouri and the Midwest, waiting for the warning to be issued is not the time to start thinking about survival needs.
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Kramper says in addition to getting an family emergency plan and an emergency kit together, residents need to know the terms associated with weather forecasts. A watch means conditions are ripe for bad weather … a warning or advisory means it’s imminent.
State Emergency Management Agency Director Paul Parmenter agrees.
“The severe winter storm that began Jan. 31 and deposited up to two feet of snow in some areas of Missouri is a reminder of the importance of being preparing for heavy snowfall and ice and the problems they can create,” Parmenter says. “We got a fresh reminder late last month, when parts of the Northeastern U.S. were hit by an early snow storm that cut off power for days. I encourage Missouri families to review their emergency supply kits with winter weather in mind.”
Recommended preparations include creating a winter car kit for the trunk of your car, making sure fireplaces and generators function properly, exercising caution when shoveling snow or pushing a car out of snow banks and avoiding unnecessary travel when driving conditions are poor.
It is also important for people to keep up to date on weather forecasts and to understand key National Weather Service terms:
- Winter Storm Watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area within 12 to 48 hours.
- Winter Storm Warning indicates severe winter weather is in the area or expected immediately and can be life threatening.
- Ice Storm Warnings are issued for ice accumulations of a quarter-inch or more.
Missourians can prepare for winter by:
- Creating a family emergency plan and an emergency kit with bottled water and food that can be prepared without cooking in case of a power outage. Kits should include bottled water, canned and dry foods, battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, manual can opener and a first-aid kit.
- Securing an alternate fuel source such as firewood or a generator. Make sure your fireplace functions properly. If you have a generator, make sure you have fuel and that your generator functions properly. Only operate the generator outdoors.
- Creating a winter car kit in the trunk of the car. This includes a blanket, spare radio with batteries, snacks or energy-type food, jumper cables, flares, shovel, sand or shingles to give tires traction.
Additional information about winter weather and preparedness tips can be found at the following Web sites:
- National Weather Service – St. Louis Winter Weather Awareness Page
- SEMA: (Look for “Winter Awareness Safety Tips” under More Information)
- Missouri Ready in 3 Program’s Weather Preparedness Page
- Missouri Dept. of Transportation’s Road Conditions
- FEMA’s Winter Awareness Campaign
- National Weather Service – Winter Storms, The Deceptive Killers Brochure (PDF)
- Missouri Ready in 3 Program also provides free family safety guides (PDF) to help prepare your family and household, or call (573) 526-4768 to order a free family safety guide. The family safety guide is available in several languages.