Friday, October 16, 2009

Heavy, Wet Snow Expected, Are You 'Prepped'?

Imagine my surprise this morning when I heard the words "Freeze Warning"! Mind you, they didn't say Frost, but Freeze. The National Weather Service has issued several winter storm advisories, watches and warnings across the northeast.

Snow that falls very early is usually wet and sticky and readily clings to tree branches. The situation is compounded because the still fully foliated and colorful fall trees collect much more snow than they would otherwise. This adds a huge amount of extra weight that becomes too heavy for the tree to support. First, weaker branches break away, then sturdier limbs rip from the main trunk. In some trees, the root structure is not terribly strong and those usually topple pretty quickly, especially in already wet, saturated ground.

The storm hitting the Northeast now is one of these tree destroyers, and you can expect much damage. In addition, the falling tree branches are forceful enough to knock down power lines, causing widespread power outages.

We haven't even had our first frost yet, so a freeze warning is unusual. I should be below the area expected to get the potentially dangerous heavy, wet snow, but here the mountains have elevations high enough for freeze pockets.

Today will be a nasty, wet day but I shall have to go out anyway to bring all my tender perennials into the root cellar, and stock firewood on the porch. Must remember to take up the garden hoses and be sure the hose bibbs are shut off under the house. Sigh.

Some winter prep tips from emergency management teams:

Make sure tires are properly inflated and have decent tread.

Check locally for any requirements for snow chains.

Keep a small broom and windshield scraper in the vehicle for ice and snow removal.

Keep your gas tank full. Top it off frequently.

Prepare a winter car kit to keep in the vehicle all winter. It should contain a flashlight, extra batteries, a small first aid kit, any necessary medications, blankets, pocket knife, matches, extra mittens and socks (dry socks are very important!), a wool cap, small shovel, some small tools (pliers, screwdrivers, wrench) and at least one brightly colored piece of fabric to use as a distress signal. Flares are wonderful, but I have a hard time finding them locally.

Keep several packets of high energy snacks in the kit, and several bottles of water.
Restock it often.

Make sure someone knows your route and time frames. Try not to travel alone.

Dress in loose-fitting, warm layers. Outer garments should be tightly-woven and water repellant. Mittens are warmer than gloves because the touching fingers generate more warmth.

If you are working outside
(shoveling snow, pushing a car out of a drift or chopping wood), do some stretching exercises first, and take frequent breaks. Overexertion causes many heart attacks every winter.

Stay dry. Change into dry clothing frequently, especially mittens and socks.

If you have been a smart cookie and have been prepping all along, you will not need to join the stampede today in the stores to get the last gallon of milk and loaf of bread. You will already have food and water on hand to use in an extended home power-outage, and plenty of candles, flashlights, blankets and a back-up heat source. Having all the warm bodies (including the furry ones) all in one room closed off by blankets generates a fair amount of heat.

The last big storm that caught me unaware was about 15 years ago, in 1993. I was living in suburban Atlanta and even that far south we got hit hard. That storm was not predicted, catching even the weathermen off guard. This area here where I live now got over 3 feet of snow, and many folks had no power for more than 2 weeks. The big ice storm in Ohio and Kentucky last year was not expected either.

If you are a Prepper, you will be prepared for almost anything that comes your way.

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