spacer image
Skip Nav Skip to Search
Contact  |  Subscribe to the Buzz by RSS
spacer image
RSS Feeds get adobe reader
Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
Get a Kit Have a Plan Be Informed

While the danger from winter weather varies across the country, nearly all Americans, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. That could mean snow or subfreezing temperatures, as well as strong winds or even ice or heavy rain storms. One of the primary concerns is the winter weather's ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time.

Prepare for Winter Weather

  • Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the warm air inside.
  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify winter weather.
    • 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.
  • Thoroughly check and update your family's emergency supply kit [link to Ready at www.ready.gov] before winter approaches.
  • Include adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • If you have a car, fill the gas tank in case you have to leave.
  • Visit NOAA Watch for more weather-related information.

Make a Plan

  • Plan to stay inside and make it on your own, at least for a period of time.
  • If you have a wood burning fire place, consider storing wood to keep you warm if winter weather knocks out your heat.

Stay Informed

  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed of winter weather watches and warnings.
  • Also monitor commercial radio, television and the Internet. For a full description of what to listen for, and an explanation of different weather terms, refer to the NWS guide.
  • Keep in mind that during a severe winter storm it could be hours, or even days, before emergency personnel are able to reach you.