National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Winter Weather Preparedness Week
December 7  - December 11, 2020

Winter Weather Preparedness Week for Georgia is December 7 - 11, 2020. The main threats from winter weather across the Southeast stem from snow and ice storms. Last winter season (2019-2020) was the second warmer than normal winter in a row. With the warmer temperatures, there was only one significant winter weather event last season, a quick snowfall event in north Georgia in February. Other seasons can be even more active. For instance, the winter of 2017-2018 was more eventful and brought a couple of impactful winter weather events. The most significant winter storm was a very early heavy snow event in December 2017 across much of north Georgia. Some locations received a foot of heavy, wet snow that left numerous downed trees and widespread power outages. Now that we are heading back into the winter weather season, it's time to review your winter weather plans to make sure you are prepared!

Ice is one of the major winter weather problems across the Southeast. The accumulation of ice on trees and power lines can cause these items to topple. Communications can become disrupted and roadways can become blocked. Bridges and overpasses generally freeze before other surfaces. In addition, ice can form on the roadway and not even be visible to the driver - this is known as black ice. During the winter of 2010-2011 north and central Georgia witnessed such an event with the Snow and Ice Storm of January 9th and 10th.  More recent ice events occurred in February 2014 and again in February 2015. It is important to have an emergency kit in case ice makes roadways hazardous and the transportation system becomes disrupted. More information can be found in Winter Storms: The Deceptive Killers.

Types of Winter Weather
NWS Watch & Warning Program
Be Prepared Ahead of the Storm
Safety...Caught in the Storm
Winter Weather Climatology


Wind Chill

Wind chill  takes into account how wind and cold feel on exposed skin rather than solely the actual temperature. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Animals are also affected by wind chill.

[ Wind Chill Chart. ]
Health Hazards

Frostbite and hypothermia are two health hazards associated with cold weather. According to NOAA's Winter Storms: The Deceptive Killers handout, frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by extreme cold. A wind chill of -20°F will cause frostbite in just 30 minutes. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately! If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm the affected areas. However, if the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities.

In NOAA's Winter Storms: The Deceptive Killers it is discussed how hypothermia is a condition that can kill and is brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 95°F. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Take the person's temperature and if below 95°F, seek medical care immediately.

Safety Information

It is important to have a safety kit both at home and in the car that can be used not only in winter weather situations but also for other emergencies. Ready Georgia provides a list of items to include in your emergency kit. The following safety tips are provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross.

If caught outside in a winter storm:

  • Try to find a shelter.
  • If no shelter is available:
    • Try to stay dry.
    • Cover all exposed body parts.
    • Build a fire for heat and to attract attention.
If stuck in a vehicle during a winter storm:
  • Stay in your vehicle.
  • Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat.
  • Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine to be visible to the rescuers.
  • Tie a colored cloth, preferably red, to your antenna or door.
  • After snow stops falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.
  • From time to time, move arms, legs, fingers and toes vigorously to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
If inside during a winter storm:
  • Stay inside!
  • When using alternate heat from a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc. use fire safeguards and properly ventilate.
  • If there is no heat:
    • Close off unneeded rooms.
    • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
    • Cover windows at night.
    • Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.
    • Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration and subsequent chill.
Winter Weather Products
The winter weather products below have thresholds specific to the local area. Neighboring forecast offices may have slightly different triggers for issuing winter weather products.
[ Wind Chill Chart. ]