A proclamation issued by Governor Earl
West Virginia, Northeast
Kentucky, Southwest Virginia, and Southeast Ohio all experience a variety of winter weather
conditions. The terrain across the area can lead to rapidly changing road surfaces.
Heavy snow, sleet, freezing rain, bitterly cold temperatures, and fog can lead to dangerous driving
conditions. It is important to be familiar with the National Weather Service watch and warning definitions and criteria. You should also keep
abreast of the latest weather forecasts and updates during the winter months. Simple
preparedness steps help you avoid being adversely affected by common hazards of the winter
Watches, Warnings, and
In the event of inclement weather, the National
Weather Service issues statements to alert the public of impending hazards. The following are
watch, warning, and advisory terms you may hear during the winter season along with their
A winter storm watch is issued
for severe winter conditions that are possible within the next three days, but timing, intensity, or
occurrence may be uncertain.
A winter storm or ice storm
warning is issued when life threatening severe winter conditions have begun or will begin
within 24 hours. Immediate action should be taken to protect life and
A blizzard warning is issued when
the following occurs for at least 3 hours or more:
Wind speeds or frequent gusts of 35 MPH or
Considerable falling snow and/or blowing
Reduced visibility to a quarter mile or
Winter weather advisories are
issued when the weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be
hazardous. You should exercise caution.
A wind chill advisory is issued
when wind chill temperatures are at or below -5F in the mountains and eastern panhandle, and -10F in
A wind chill warning is issued
for wind chill temperatures that are at or below -20F in the mountains and eastern panhandle, and
-25F in the lowlands.
Additional details on winter weather criteria
can be found here.
Winter Travel and
According to the U. S. Department of
Commerce, approximately 70 percent of fatal automobile accidents are ice or snow-related.
Another 25 percent of winter deaths can be attributed to people being caught out in the
storms. Travel can be very treacherous during winter storms. Consider postponing travel until
hazardous winter weather has ended. If you must travel during hazardous winter weather there
are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you arrive safely.
Always keep your gas tank full. Make
sure your trip is planned and someone knows your route. If your vehicle becomes stranded in the snow
in the countryside, do not leave it. Do not attempt to walk to a home in the middle of a
snowstorm and strong winds. Periodically run the vehicle engine and heater, but make sure you
open your window a crack and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow to avoid carbon monoxide
poisoning. Also, make sure you tie a red or orange rag to the vehicle radio antenna so that
others may see your vehicle better. Each winter, make sure you have updated your vehicle
winter storm survival kit. Fully check and winterize your vehicle before winter. Pack extra
blankets or sleeping bags. Include the following items in your winter survival kit:
Flashlight with extra
First aid Kit
High calories non-perishable
Water proof matches
A bag of sand or kitty
Windshield scraper and
Cell phone charger and extra
Prepare your vehicle for winter by getting a
complete tune-up in the fall. Check tire pressure at least once per month to ensure tires are
properly inflated. Identical tires should be used on all four wheels to improve vehicle handling.
Ensure that the tire treads are 1/16 inch for adequate traction. Have your exhaust system
carefully checked for any leaks that could send carbon monoxide into your vehicle. Check your
radiator and hoses for cracks and leaks. Make sure the radiator cap, water pump and thermostat work
properly. Test the strength of the anti-freeze and test the functioning of the heater and
defroster. Make sure wipers are in good condition and fill up on washer fluid, and carry and
extra jug of washer fluid in the vehicle.
Safety at Home and
Winter weather can cause lost of heat, power, and
telephone. Preparing prior to the storm can allow your, your family, or your employees the
security of knowing that you can survive the storm. Every home should have a disaster supplies
kit. Here are a few things to keep at home or at the workplace to prepare for impending winter
Flashlight and extra
Battery powered NOAA Weather
Battery powered Portable
Extra Food and Water
Extra medicine, baby items
First aid supplies
Emergency heating source
Fire extinguisher and smoke
Carbon Monoxide detector
Food, water, and shelter for
Ensure proper ventilation for any space heaters to
avoid deadly carbon monoxide gas buildup in your home.
Prepare for the outdoors by dressing for the
season. Wear loose fitting and lightweight clothing in several layers. Wear a hat and mittens.
Clean gutters. Snow and ice can build up quickly,
especially if your gutters are clogged with debris. When thawing begins, water from melting ice has
nowhere to drain and can back up under your roof and eaves, causing water damage to walls and
Check your homeowners insurance policy to make
sure coverage is adequate for the type of winter weather in your area. Learn what is excluded
from the policy.
During winter, drain pipes if your power goes off
or if you plan an extended stay away from home. To drain, turn off the water heater and main water
supply, open all faucets in the house and drain the system by keeping the valves open. Drain all
toilets by holding the lever down until the tank empties. If well water is used, the
pump's electric switch should be shut off and the pressure tank system should be
Winter brings about a variety of hazards. A pair
hazards that are often overlooked with deadly results are frostbite and hypothermia. The
combination of wind and low temperature in winter can lead to frostbite or hypothermia. The
wind chill index can help you determine when dangerous conditions develop. Wind chill index
accounts for heat loss from the human body due to the combination of cold and wind. The
calculation for the wind chill index utilizes wind speed in miles per hour and temperature in
degrees fahrenheit. Sometime you may hear wind chill index referred to as the apparent
Frostbite occurs when the body relies on survival
mechanisms that take effect during extremely cold weather. The body will protect the vital
inner organs first. By doing this, blood flow to the extremities such as feet, hands, and the
nose is diminished. When less blood flow and extreme cold occur to these exposed locations
they eventually freeze. A wind chill of -20F will cause frostbite in just 30
Make sure all body parts are covered to minimize
frostbite. Frostbite will cause a loss of feeling as your tissue to freezes. Your skin will turn
white or pale. Return blood flow to frozen tissue by providing warmth to the affected area by
holding it closely against warm skin.
The most common winter weather killer is
hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when the core body temperature falls dangerously low.
Hypothermia can take place even during relatively mild temperatures. Deaths can occur with air
temperatures even at temperatures as warm as 50 degrees. If you have wet clothing the
likelihood of hypothermia greatly increases.
Warning signs for the onset of hypothermia include
uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, slurred speech, and drowsiness.
Immediate medical attentions should be given to victims suspected of having hypothermia.
If medical attention is not possible try warming the victim slowly with warm liquids, dry
clothing, and blankets.
Who are at risk of
Infants younger than age one
People 65 and older
Thin people are more prone to hypothermia
because of less fat under the skin. Fat helps protect the body against the cold because it retains
People with mental illnesses or developmental
or cognitive disabilities may not be made aware of winter or severe weather. During inclement
weather, check on your neighbors.
Some prescribed medicines may increase the
risk of accidental hypothermia. Examples include medicines for hypothyroidism; diabetes; skin
conditions such as psoriasis; arthritis, and Parkinson's disease which can restrict body
Alcoholic drinks can also make a person lose
body heat faster. People at higher risk of hypothermia should not drink alcoholic
School administrators and principals need to
prepare for the dangers winter can bring for school children. Procedures and practices should be
determined before the winter season begins. Consider some of these practices when creating a winter
weather safety plan.
Get the latest weather forecast by using NOAA Weather Radio. You can also retrieve point weather
forecasts for your area from the National Weather Service website. Monitor commercial radio and television stations.
Create arrangements with local law enforcement agencies or other knowledgeable sources that can
relay weather information. Efficient methods for obtaining weather information will aid in the
decision making process and ensure student safety.
School bus drivers should receive extra training
for hazardous winter driving conditions. Snow and ice can create dangerous driving conditions in a
matter of a few minutes. Bus drivers should also be given training on recognizing the signs
and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. Drivers should be familiar with alternate routes, stay up
to date on the latest forecasts, and maintain
communications with school
Schools should have accommodations made ready to
allow students to be moved indoors quickly if they are dropped off early.
Knowledge of winter weather products, winter
safety tips for work, home, school and travel, along with being able to recognize frostbite and
hypothermia will help you to plan ahead when the winter season starts. Advanced preparation will
help you avoid the pitfalls that can accompany winter weather.
Contact your local emergency management agency or
your local National Weather Service Office for a speaker to discuss weather