Winter Weather Awareness

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Grand Island and Hall County are home to a wide variety of severe weather hazards which can include severe summer storms bringing wind, hail, heavy rain and tornadoes to winter blizzards and ice storms. The most effective way to learn of severe weather is to monitor local media and especially the NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio.

Blizzards and ice storms bring particularly dangerous conditions to our area in the form of cold, wind, snow and ice.  Winter can be an underestimated hazard and simple lapses in planning or judgment can bring about startling results.   Plan and prepare for every winter hazard by taking simple steps.

Strong winter storms can produce heavy winds that create blizzard conditions with blowing snow, blinding conditions, wind-driven snow drifts, and dangerous wind chill temperatures. Wind damages in severe winter storms can damage buildings, outbuildings, trees and utility poles.  Damage to utility services can interrupt the delivery of electricity and subject residents to cold temperatures inside their own home.

Extremely cold temperatures are particularly dangerous to the very young and elderly.  Exposure to cold temperatures can cause frostbite and hypothermia which can easily prove to be fatal.  Extreme cold temperatures can affect a buildings heating and plumbing, cause pipes to burst and flood homes and basements.

Strong winter storms can produce snow hazards either by significant accumulation amounts or simply the blinding conditions of wind-driven snow.  Heavy accumulations of snow can impact travel and transportation, disrupt lines of fuels and supplies, and will slow down emergency response to any emergency in the area.  In some cases, heavy snowfall can collapse roofs, leave remote residents stranded for days or weeks, and kill animals, livestock and vegetation. 

Similar to heavy snow, large accumulations of ice can topple trees, utility lines, and affect transportation routes.  Recent ice storms in Central Nebraska destroyed miles of power lines leaving some areas without power for weeks.    Some areas, like Grand Island, had power restored relatively swiftly, but vital roadways were cut off by downed power lines and restricted travel.

Winter Travel
Anytime you travel during the winter months, be particularly mindful of weather forecasts along your entire route.  Weather can change drastically from one area to another due to local climate, elevation, storm direction and/or speed, and prevailing weather patterns.  Good conditions locally may not continue when traveling for any distance.

If severe winter weather is forecast, stay home or delay until the weather clears.  Always keep an emergency vehicle kit with jumper cables, first aid supplies, food, water, tools, blankets and other items in case of emergency.  Prudent travel planning will make for a more successful and enjoyable trip.

If you are caught in severe winter weather and cannot find shelter:
  • Stay with your vehicle.  Do not venture into the cold without a clear and visible destination.
  • Call 9-1-1 and report your location to authorities.
  • Open the hood or place a flag on the antenna to be more visible.
  • Run the car's heater occasionally to maintain temperatures.
  • Clear the exhaust pipe occasionally of snow or ice to prevent gases backing up in the vehicle.
  • A small candle in your emergency kit can provide a surprising amount of warmth.
Winter Weather Resources
The National Weather Service provides comprehensive information and statistics on Severe Winter Weather that can assist you in your own winter weather plan.

Get Ready Today.