Winter weather has arrived

By: 
Chuck Kajer, The New Prague Times

With all the election news last week, it might have slipped your mind that last week, November 5-9, was Winter Weather Awareness Week. That said, with the weather we’ve had since election day, no doubt, you are aware that winter weather is here.

Minnesotans pride themselves in being hardy when it comes to cold weather. Some believe shorts and T-shirts are appropriate attire even during an early-season snowstorm. Still, with the snow and cold weather this past week, even long-time Minnesotans need a refresher course on driving and surviving in cold weather. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety sent out a press release last week to remind Minnesotans that winter weather is something that should be taken seriously.

Highlights:

The National Weather Service has four levels of alerts for winter weather. An Outlook says winter storm conditions are possible in the next 2-5 days, and people should keep track of weather reports when making plans. A Watch means that winter storm conditions are possible in the next 34-48 hours, and people should make preparation. A Warning means life-threatening sever winter conditions have begun or will within the next 24 hours. An Advisory means winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. People can keep track of conditions using NOAA Weather Radio, radio, television or cell phones. Hazardous weather can mean either extreme cold or heavy snow and ice.

Outdoor safety - There is no way of ensuring that winter ice is safe. Conditions can change and ice depth can be uneven due to a number of factors. Certainly, no ice is safe this early in the season. People traveling on ice need to exercise extreme caution. Also, frostbite and hypothermia are two things to be aware of when venturing outside during the winter. To help stay warm when outside, wear layers of loose-fitting, water repellant, warm clothing and wear a hat (40 percent of body heat is lost from the head).

Driving - Everyone needs to be cautious about traveling in extreme weather. Even the light snow last week created hazardous conditions, with a high number of crashes in the Twin Cities with the season's first snowfall.

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