Did You Know?

Wisconsin Winters


Winter Weather Awareness Week: November 9-13, 2015


NOAA's National Weather Service urges residents to keep abreast of local forecasts and warnings and familiarize themselves with key weather terminology.

Winter Storm Warning: Issued when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is imminent or occurring. Winter Storm Warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin.

Winter Storm Watch: Alerts the public to the possibility of a blizzard, heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet. Winter Storm Watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a Winter Storm.

Winter Storm Outlook: Issued prior to a Winter Storm Watch. The Outlook is given when forecasters believe winter storm conditions are possible and are usually issued 3 to 5 days in advance of a winter storm.

Blizzard Warning: Issued for sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more, and falling or blowing snow creating visibilities at or below mile; these conditions should persist for at least three hours.

Lake Effect Snow Warning: Issued when heavy lake effect snow is imminent or occurring.

Lake Effect Snow Advisory: Issued when accumulation of lake effect snow will cause significant inconvenience.

Wind Chill Warning: Issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be hazardous to life within several minutes of exposure.

Wind Chill Advisory: Issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be a significant inconvenience to life with prolonged exposure, and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to hazardous exposure.

Winter Weather Advisories: Issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet which will cause significant inconveniences and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to life-threatening situations.

Dense Fog Advisory: Issued when fog will reduce visibility to mile or less over a widespread area.

Snow Flurries: Light snow falling for short durations. No accumulation or light dusting is all that is expected.

Snow Showers: Snow falling at varying intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible.

Snow Squalls: Brief, intense snow showers accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation may be significant. Snow squalls are best known in the Great Lakes region.

Blowing Snow: Wind-driven snow that reduces visibility and causes significant drifting. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling and/or loose snow on the ground picked up by the wind.

Sleet: Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorists.

Freezing Rain: Rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars, and roads, forming a coating or glaze of ice. Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard.

Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

Add the following supplies to your disaster supplies kit:

Prepare your home and family

Prepare your car

Dress for the Weather

When Caught in a Winter Storm...

Outside In a Vehicle At Home
Find Shelter:
  • Try to stay dry.
  • Cover all exposed parts of body.
No Shelter:
  • Prepare a wind-break for protection from the wind.
  • Build a fire for heat and to attract attention.
  • Place rocks around fire to absorb and reflect heat.
Do Not Eat Snow:
  • It will lower your body temperature. Melt it first.
Stay in Your Vehicle and Run the Motor Sparingly:
  • About ten minutes each hour for heat.
  • Open the window a bit for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make sure exhaust pipe is not blocked.
Make Yourself Visible to Rescuers:
  • Turn on dome light at night.
  • Tie colored cloth to antenna.
Stay Inside:
  • Make sure you provide proper ventilation when using alternate heat sources.
  • If no heat, close off unneeded rooms and stuff towels under doors.
Eat and Drink
  • Food provides body with energy for producing its own heat.  Non-alcoholic beverages prevent dehydration.
Dress Warmly

If you are outdoors

If you are driving

  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary.  If you must drive, consider the following:

    • Travel in the day, don't travel alone, and keep others informed of your schedule.

    • Stay on main roads; avoid back road shortcuts.

  • If a blizzard traps you in the car:

    • Pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.

    • Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Be careful; distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close, but be too far to walk to in deep snow.

Other Information & Resources

Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Lightning...Nature's Most Violent Storms

Basic Spotters' Field Guide

Are you ready? Tornadoes - FEMA       Tornado - American Red Cross          Severe weather Outlook - visit the NOAA Website

Do you have questions about joining? We have put together a short FAQ sheet on Joining and may answer some questions you may have:

New Member FAQ

Join the Mountain Ambulance Service Today

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