National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Arctic Front to Bring Areas of Heavy Snow and Bitter Cold

Heavy snow will shift into the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes as an arctic front continues south and east. Bitter cold and dangerous wind chills can be expected across the Northern Tier states and into the Central Great Plains. A Pacific weather system will bring a wintry mix in the mountains and rain to the lower elevations. Read More >

Vehicle Safety Tips

Severe Weather

The least desirable place to be during a tornado is in a motor vehicle. Cars, buses, and trucks are easily tossed by tornado winds.

DO NOT TRY TO OUTRUN A TORNADO IN YOUR CAR. If you see a tornado, stop your vehicle and get out. Do not get under your vehicle. Follow the directions for seeking shelter outdoors, which are:

  • Avoid areas with many trees.
  • Avoid vehicles.
  • Lie down flat in a gully, ditch, or low spot on the ground.

Protect your head with an object or with your arms.


Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and make sure the emergency kit for your car is ready in case you need to evacuate during a flood. As a reminder, a vehicle is not a safe place during flooding. Seek higher ground. Moving water can and will float a vehicle.

Winter Weather

1.  Be sure your car is in good working order before winter starts. This includes brakes, lights, battery, defroster, exhaust, heater, windshield wipers, and cooling system. Keep your gas tank at least half full and carry a winter survival kit in the trunk. Try to travel in a group of other vehicles when traversing sparsely populated areas.

 2.  If you must travel during a winter storm, let someone know your travel plans and carry a winter survival kit in your car. The survival kit should include a battery powered radio, tire chains, booster cables, shovel, sand, flashlight, candles and matches, first aid kit, non-perishable high calorie food, and extra clothing or blankets. A cellular phone or citizens band radio is also recommended. Monitor the latest information about the storm on your car or portable radio.

 3.  If you must travel during a blizzard or heavy snowstorm and your car becomes stalled, don't panic. Stay in your car and keep the radiator and exhaust pipe clear of snow. Don't try to shovel or push your car out of the snow. Bitterly cold winds can sap your strength quickly and over exertion will exhaust you, lowering your resistance to the cold and endangering your life. Don't try to walk out of the storm. You can easily lose your sense of direction and you will no longer have the protective shelter of your car.

 4.  If your car stalls during a blizzard or heavy snowstorm, stay in your car and run the motor and heater sparingly. Open a window a small amount for ventilation and to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure ice does not seal the car windows and cut off the oxygen supply. In daylight, tie a colored cloth to the radio antenna. At night, turn on the dome light or a flashlight frequently. If you must get out of your car, tie a life line to you and your car.  During a blizzard, you could get lost just a few feet away from your car. If you're alone, stay awake and alert to spot help or trouble. If you're with companions, at least one person must be awake and alert at all times. Exercise arms and legs to maintain blood circulation and to keep your body temperature from dropping.


Don’t leave people or pets in cars. Even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes. Anyone or any pet left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death. Children who are left unattended in parked cars are at greatest risk for heat stroke, and possibly death.


A vehicle is not a safe place during a fire. Plan escape routes. Back your car into the garage, or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut doors and roll up windsows. Leave the key in the ignition. Disconnect automatic garage door openers. Drive to a safe location away from the path of the oncoming fire.