If hibernation were an option for humans, we’d almost certainly give it a go during blizzard season. There’s every reason to envy bears and hedgehogs during the winter months, when cold air meets moisture to create huge snow storms that bring daily life to a halt. These are no ordinary snow flurries — they involve wind speeds over 35mph and visibility of less than a ¼ mile. To avoid being caught outside or stuck inside without a plan, follow these tried and tested blizzard safety tips.
Who’s Affected by Blizzard Season?
Blizzards require freezing temperatures at ground level and moist air that rises over the colder air. This creates a front capable of producing snowfall. The Great Plains and upper Midwest, where moist air rolls in off the Great Lakes and meets bone-chilling winter temperatures, are both prime candidates but nowhere is exempt. Catastrophic blizzards such as 2010’s Snowmageddon or the 1993 Storm of the Century are capable of wreaking widespread havoc and bringing national travel to a standstill. Residents of every continental state should have an awareness of blizzard risks in winter.
How to Prepare for Blizzards
It’s always prudent to begin preparing for cooler or even freezing temperatures ahead of the first significant snow. Once you hear of impending severe weather from the National Weather Service, you may already be stretched for time. Monitor temperature, wind speed and air pressure with an AcuRite weather station for advance warning and be ready to respond.
- Store or winterize your vehicle, topping off with antifreeze, attaching snow chains and checking the battery.
- Keep a shovel and salt (or kitty litter, if you’re in a pinch) close to the front door in case you need to clear a path.
- Bring any animals inside.
- Insulate any exposed pipes and remember to run the water regularly to keep to stop them freezing and bursting. You can keep track of your pipe temperature using our wired sensor for pipes – which can send alerts directly to your smart phone if it looks like your pipes may freeze.
- Monitor local weather stations or radio or consult your AcuRite weather station until you have an all-clear that conditions are safe.
Stock up on These Supplies
Even a moderate blizzard can knock out power and interrupt supply lines for days. In a severe blizzard leaving the house will not be possible until emergency services have cleared the roads, and even then, stores or gas stations may not be open. Make sure you are prepared with the essentials to ride out the storm.
Essential Blizzard Stockpile
- Sufficient food and water to last several days
- Back-up fuel and power supply in case utilities are cut off
- Essential medication and First Aid Kit
- Plenty of warm clothing, including gloves and hats to protect extremities
How To Stay Safe Once the Blizzard Hits
Extreme cold and strong winds are not the only threats during a blizzard, even if they are the most apparent. Other factors that can be easily overlooked include fires or carbon monoxide poisoning from using camping stoves or other emergency heating sources inside. Ideally, use a generator as a back-up power source rather than trying to heat your home with equipment intended for outdoor use. Falls and accidents are also a significant risk. Avoid any road travel during a blizzard since visibility will be minimal and conditions icy. Finding yourself trapped in a stationary vehicle could expose you to hypothermia or frostbite.
Weather Forecasting Kit for Blizzard Season
Sudden drops in atmospheric pressure accompanied by strengthening winds are conducive to blizzard formation in winter. If you are away from your home weather station, you can keep an eye on both pressure drops and increasing winds with AcuRite portable sensors — go ahead and add them to your car survival kit now!
Extreme winter weather is no longer a once-a-century event, and areas that may have considered themselves out of the blizzard belt are often affected. As with any other type of storm, track activity early to give yourself the best chance of leaving the area or riding out the blizzard safely.
Ever been caught in a blizzard? Or stuck in the snow? Please share your death-defying stories with us in the comments below!!