Extreme Cold and Winter Storms

 

Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. Even areas that normally experience mild winters can be hit with a major snowstorm or extreme cold. Winter storms can result in flooding, storm surge, closed highways, blocked roads, downed power lines and hypothermia.

 

The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.

 

Learn more about preparing for extreme winter weather here.

 

Dippy (Diplodicus) | Carnegie Musuem of Natural History | Pittsburgh, PA 

During extreme cold or winter weather...

University of Pittsburgh Campus - Oakland | Cathedral of Learning | Pittsburgh, PA

  • Listen to your radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information.
  • Have an Emergency Supply Kit and Household Disaster Plan in place. Include the following for extreme cold:
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. .
    • Sand to improve traction
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
    • Also include adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.

Learn more about extreme cold preparednes here.

Terms

 

  • Freezing Rain creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.
  • Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Winter Weather Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected.
  • Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.
  • Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.
  • Blizzard Warning means heavy snow and strong winds will produce a blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill.
  • Frost/Freeze Warning means below freezing temperatures are expected.
  • When a Winter Storm WATCH is issued
    • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, and television stations, or cable television such as The Weather Channel for further updates.
    • Be alert to changing weather conditions.
    • Avoid unnecessary travel
  • When a Winter Storm WARNING is issued
    • Stay indoors during the storm.
    • If you must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.
    • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
    • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
    • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
    • Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must...
    • Carry an Emergency Supply Kit in the trunk.
      • Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
      • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
      • Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
      • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms

Blizzard 2010 | Pittsburgh, PA