Winter Weather Resources

Transportation

Winter Driving

Whenever possible, avoid driving in a winter storm. If you must go out, it is safer to travel in the day.

Colorado Department of Transportation road conditions, traffic cameras, alerts and restrictions throughout Colorado are located at http://www.cotrip.org/home.htm  Call 511 from your cell phone for statewide conditions or 303-639-1111 for nationwide conditions.  

If you must drive or get caught in a storm, heed the following tips:

General winter driving tips

  • Avoid traveling alone, but if you do so, let someone know your destination, route and when you expect to arrive.
  • Dress warmly. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in layers.
  • Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions.
  • Use major streets or highways for travel whenever possible; these roadways will be cleared first.
  • Drive slowly. Posted speed limits are for ideal weather conditions. Vehicles take longer to stop on snow and ice than on dry pavement.
  • Four-wheel drive vehicles may make it easier to drive on snow-covered roads, but they do not stop quicker than other vehicles.
  • If you skid, steer in the direction you want the car to go and straighten the wheel when the car moves in the desired direction.
  • Know your vehicle's braking system. Vehicles with anti-lock brakes require a different braking technique than vehicles without antilock brakes in icy or snowy conditions.
  • Try to keep your vehicle's gas tank as full as possible.
  • Travel during daylight hours.

Winterize your car

Before winter sets in, have a mechanic check the following items on your vehicle:

  • Battery
  • Antifreeze
  • Windshield wipers and washer fluid
  • Ignition system
  • Thermostat
  • Lights (head lamps and hazard lights)
  • Exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster
  • Oil level (if necessary, replace oil with a winter oil or SAE 10w/30 variety)

Install good winter tires that have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

Regardless of the season, it's a good idea to prepare for an in-car emergency. Assemble an emergency supply kit for your vehicle, and consider adding the following items for winter conditions:

  • Blankets, sleeping bags, extra newspapers for insulation
  • Plastic bags (for sanitation)
  • Extra mittens, socks, scarves and hat, rain gear and extra clothes
  • Sack of sand or kitty litter for gaining traction under wheels, small shovel
  • Set of tire chains or traction mats
  • Working jack and lug wrench, spare tire
  • Windshield scraper, broom
  • Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
  • Booster cables
  • Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag, flares or reflective triangles

Driving maneuvers

  • Stopping on snow and ice without skidding requires extra time and distance.  If you have anti-lock brakes, press the pedal down firmly and hold it.  If you don't have anti-lock brakes, gently pump the pedal.  Either way, give yourself plenty of room to stop. Never slam on the brakes.
  • Remember, even if you drive an SUV with four-wheel drive, you may not be able to stop any faster, or maintain control any better, once you lose traction.  Four-wheel drive may get you going faster, but it won't help you stop sooner.
  • When you're driving on snow, accelerate gradually.
  • When you're driving on snow, ice or wet roads, avoid abrupt steering maneuvers.
  • When you're driving on snow, ice or wet roads, merge slowly, since sudden movements can cause your vehicle to slide.
  • Look farther ahead in traffic that you normally do.  Actions by other vehicles will alert you to problems more quickly, and give you that split-second of extra time to react safely.

If you become trapped or stranded in a vehicle

  • Try to move the vehicle to the side of the road if possible. 
  • 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 try to walk to safety unless help is visible within 100 yards. You could become disoriented in blowing snow.
  • Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. 
  • Protect yourself from possible carbon monoxide poisoning by opening a downwind window slightly while your vehicle is running. Periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. 
  • Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion.
  • Huddle with passengers and use your coat, blanket, road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for warmth.
  • Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
  • Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Conserve car battery power by balancing the use of lights, heat, and radio with supply.
  • Call attention by tying a brightly colored cloth to the antenna and raise the hood to alert rescuers. Turn on vehicle light at night.
  • Keep one window slightly open to let in fresh air. Use a window that is opposite the direction the wind is blowing.

                                                                                                                                 

Snowplow information

Despite the infrequency of storms, the City of Colorado Springs Operations & Maintenance Division must be prepared for minor and major snowstorms from September through May.

The City's Operations & Maintenance Division is responsible for servicing 5,833 lane miles of roadway, extending over a 194 square mile area. While average annual snowfall stands at 42 inches, snow can pile up quickly at varying rates throughout the City.

Elevation and wind can compound accumulation, causing an immediate impact on the City's mobility. Hence, the need for safe and passable streets is a priority for the Operations & Maintenance Division. Due to resource constraints residential streets will not be plowed until at least 6" of snow has fallen. 

Click here to view the City of Colorado Springs Snow Routes.  

Click on a route to see information such as material used on that route and the classification of the street. 

Safe travel around snowplows

  • Don't crowd the plow.  Snowplows plow far and wide, sometimes very wide.  The front plow extends several feet in front of the truck and may cross the centerline and shoulder during plowing operations.
  • Don't tailgate or stop too close behind snowplows.  Snow plows are usually spreading deicing materials from the back of the truck and may need to stop or take evasive action to avoid obstructions or stranded vehicles.  If you find yourself behind a snow plow, stay behind it or use extreme caution when passing.  The road behind a snowplow will be safer to drive on.
  • Remember, a snowplow operator's field of vision is restricted.  You may see them but they may not see you. 

Frequently asked questions

Q) How does the city determine which streets to plow during a snow event? 

  • Main streets, or most streets with stripes, are the priority for Colorado Springs Public Works and our largest plows.  These are the streets that carry most of the city's traffic as well as emergency vehicles and public transportation.  The number of plows deployed and the option of pre-treating or anti-icing the streets depends on the weather conditions.
  • During major snow events when Colorado Springs receives 12 inches or more of snow accompanied by prolonged freezing temperatures, 4x4 plows may be deployed to simultaneously clear residential, or neighborhood, streets.

Q) When Will You Plow My Residential Street?

  • When the primary and secondary routes are cleared and safe for travel, the Operations & Maintenance Division may begin plowing and applying anti-skid by grid in residential areas where snowfall has exceeded 6".  This is after the storm has passed and snowfall has ceased.
  • The goal of the City of Colorado Springs Snow and Ice Control Plan is to maintain a safe flow of traffic throughout the City and ensure that each residential area is in close proximity to a plowed street.  Emphasis is also placed on ensuring emergency services can be provided throughout the city.

Q) Why did the plow push snow on my shoveled sidewalk/driveway?

  • Pushing snow onto sidewalks and driveways is an unfortunate consequence of plowing any street with heavy plows.  We have always been very forthcoming about this potential issue with the community and the feedback we receive is that the priority is to keep our streets passable and continue to plow the streets.
  • While re-depositing snow onto sidewalks by the plows doesn't happen very often, we are truly sorry when it does.  
  • We are constantly providing our drivers with feedback on their performance and ways to minimize the occurrence of snow on sidewalks.
  • We also encourage citizens who are healthy to assist neighbors who may need help shoveling. 
  • With a little preparation you can save your self from having to re-shovel your driveway after the plow goes by.  If you shovel a "pocket" to the right of your driveway it will leave a space for the plow to drop snow and keep your driveway clear.  

Q) How many large snow plows does Colorado Springs have in its fleet?

  • 50 Large Plows
  • 9 Small Plows
  • Four Motor Graders
  • 6 Loaders
  • Four Loaders at District Facilities to load material into the plows
  • "Full Call-Out" means anywhere from 36-40 plows, and four motor graders on the street, for a total of 40-44 pieces of heavy equipment.

Q) How many people does it take to run a snow shift?

  • 40 Plow Operators
  • Three Supervisors
  • 1 Manager
  • 1 Person at the operations Center
  • Total of 45 people working 12 hour shifts, 90 people for a 24 hour shift.

Q) How/When does Public Works use de-icing and anti-skid materials?

  • Public works uses three types of materials for snow operations.
  • Treated Salt is used to melt snow and ice at low temperatures and keeps ice from forming on the road surface after it has been plowed.
  • Anti-Skid is a mix of Sand and Salt and is used when the temperatures fall enough to decrease the effectiveness of de-icers.  The salt in the anti-skid helps to imbed the sand in the ice and the sand increases traction on icy roadways.  
  • Magnesium Chloride is a liquid de-icer that is very effective at melting ice when the temperature outside is above zero.  We use this material to help keep ice from bonding with the road surface and makes it easier to plow snow and ice from the roadway.  We also use Magnesium Chloride in conjunction with Salt to help activate the material before it hits the roadway which increases its effects on ice.  We also will "pre-wet" anti-skid with magnesium chloride which keeps the sand from blowing off the roadway and helps it to imbed into the snow and ice to increase traction.

Q) Why are there more potholes after the snow season?

  • During the winter, potholes are created when moisture seeps into cracks in the surface of a road and freezes, causing it to expand.  When the ice thaws that space is left empty, resulting in a hole in the pavement or a "pothole."
  • We encourage residents to call 385-ROAD to report any potholes.

Q) What should I do with my trash and recycling during snowy conditions?

  • DO shovel a path to your recycling cart and trash barrel.
  • DO keep these container off patches of ice for safety.
  • DO put your cart and trash barrel as far in the street as possible - not behind snow banks.
  • DO leave a 4' space on either side of your barrel and recycling cart allowing easy access by our trucks automated arms.
  • DON'T use cardboard boxes as a trash container.  This is always a "Don't" no matter what the weather conditions.
  • DON'T pile snow beside dumpsters.

Q) How can I help?

  • When you see a plow on the street, give the plow driver plenty of room to work.
  • When shoveling your vehicle out of an on-street parking spot, shovel the snow into your yard rather than into the street.  When the street is plowed, it is likely that the snow in the street will be pushed onto your vehicle.
  • If you are unable to shovel the snow into your yard, attempt to shovel it as close to the curb as possible.
  • Shovel snow into small piles instead of large piles.  This allows the sun to melt the piles quicker and prevents them from turning into dangerous ice banks.
  • Help others shovel.
  • Also, click on Your Part above to see more that you can do.  

Q) Snow plows are often seen driving on the streets with the plow blade up.  Why aren't these plows working to clear the roads?

  • Like any organized plan, snow plowing only works when everyone stays on track and on schedule.  Public works strategically deploys  resources to best meet the priorities of each snowfall. To be successful, plows absolutely must stick to their assignment and not take time to plow in between locations.  
  • Because they must travel in between route locations or back to their snow station, drivers must have their plow blades off the ground to stay on schedule.  Trucks must travel at much slower speeds when plowing, so when a truck is plowing where it isn't scheduled to work, it cannot reach its designated work assignment on time which can impact the progress of other plows in the area.
  • In cases where accumulations on the street are just beginning, or where streets have already been plowed, snowplows may drive with their plow up while applying deicing material.  To maximize effectiveness, the deicing material needs time to absorb into the snow/ice before it is plowed.  

Our plan

The Operations & Maintenance Division's first priority is to plow arterials and collectors (most streets with stripes) first.  This is so the streets with the most amount of regular and emergency traffic are as safe as possible.  Weather conditions determine the number of plows and types of materials used for each storm.

  • During major snow events when Colorado Springs receives 12 inches or more of snow accompanied by prolonged freezing temperatures, 4x4 plows may be deployed to simultaneously clear residential, or neighborhood, streets.
  • While plowing, the Operations & Maintenance Division may use de-icing and anti-icing materials to improve traction and decrease ice on the roadways.  
  • After snow has accumulated on the pavement, Public Works will apply a de-icing agent to the streets to prevent the snow from building up and turning into ice.  Deicing may be accomplished with the use of a granular salt based material or with liquid magnesium chloride.  

Our Process

We have a sophisticated process that we execute when snow is predicted, snow begins, and when a major snow event occurs.

Routes

The goal of the Snow and Ice Control Plan is to maintain a safe flow of traffic throughout the City while ensuring each residential area is in close proximity.

Area of Responsibility

The City of Colorado Springs Operations & Maintenance Division is responsible for snow removal on City Streets.  City crews clear about 1,800 lane miles on main roads when snow accumulates during a storm.

The Operations and Maintenance Division plows streets that are within city limits.  The Colorado Department of Transportation plows state highways that fall within city limits like Powers Blvd and I-25.  Public Works also works closely with El Paso County and shares and "Exchange of Maintenance" Agreement on roadways where it is mutually beneficial.

You can decipher the different agency plows simply by color: City of Colorado Springs trucks are white, CDOT trucks are Orange, and El Paso County trucks are red.

Our process

Street Treatments
The City uses two materials on City streets.  The first material is called "anti-skid" and is used on most snow routes.  Anti-skid can contain up to 20 percent salt, and is used to aid in vehicle traction.  The second material is used on many of the City's thoroughfares and is called "IceSlicer."  This material is a de-icer and will lower the freezing temperature of water.  IceSlicer will work down to around 10 degrees.  To view maps that show these routes, click here.

Snow Predicted

  • Anti-icing applied only to main streets when conditions permit to prevent snow from bonding to the pavement.
  • The goal of anti-icing is to prevent the snow from bonding to the pavement and forming ice.  This is done by placing material on the streets before it snows.  The material used in anti-icing is liquid magnesium chloride, an agent that is also used after snow has fallen to "de-ice" city streets.  Weather conditions have to be right to successfully anti-ice.

Snow Begins

  • De-icing applied only to main streets to prevent the snow from building up the turning into ice. 
  • Main streets plowed by heavy plows.
  • After snow has accumulated on the pavement, the Operations & Maintenance Division will apply de-icing agents to the street to prevent the snow from building up and turning into ice.  Depending on the location, either Ice Slicer, (a dry material that looks like sand but is naturally mined mix of sodium chloride, potassium chloride) or liquid magnesium chloride may be used to de-ice.

Major Snow Event - 12 inches or more of snow accompanied by prolonged freezing temperatures.

  • When there is more than 6 inches of snow main streets are treated, and after snow has stopped falling the Operations & Maintenance Division will treat residential streets as resources allow.
  • De-icing applied only to main streets to prevent the snow from building up and turning into ice.

                                                                                                                                 

airplane flying with mountains in the backgroundColorado Springs Airport 

Realtime flight information for the Colorado Springs Airport can be accessed here. Local airlines are responsible for updating all information when delays occur. Please check with your airline (not the Airport) for official flight information. For Airport weather updates, please check our Twitter and Facebook pages.

                                                                                                                   

Mountain Metro bus information

 

Mountain Metro provides a variety of updates in order to ensure the correct information is getting to the public. Closures, delays and all other route information can be found on:

  • Media outlets including radio & television
  • Alerts on all terminal bus monitors
  • The digital headers inside our buses
  • The MMTransit.com page and the ColoradoSprings.gov page
  •  Social media pages with the hashtag, #MMTRA 

Mountain Metro strongly encourages riders to follow their Facebook and Twitter as it will have the very latest alerts directly from the Transit office.

Mountain Metro created a special hashtag, #MMTRA. (Mountain Metro Rider Alert)

Simply enter the hashtag, #MMTRA, into the search bar of Facebook or Twitter to find all RIDER ALERTS easily!

 

Around the house

Person shoveling snowAlthough Colorado Springs generally experiences mild winters, typically the area is hit with one or two major snowstorms or extreme cold temperature events each year. One of the primary concerns is the winter weather’s ability to knock out heat, power, and communications services to your residence or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region.

When winter weather is in the forecast residents should follow local weather warnings and follow news from local officials online. Residents are also encouraged to take the necessary precautions to prepare their family, home and vehicles accordingly and ensure they have a plan and adequate supplies to stay at home for at least 72 hours, if necessary.

What to do before a storm strikes

  • Make an emergency plan and communicate it with your family. Build a 72-hour kit with adequate food, supplies and medications to stay home for several days, if needed. 
  • Check on relatives, friends, and neighbors who may need assistance preparing for a storm.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio and your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. Know what winter storm watches and warnings mean.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions and avoid unnecessary travel.
  • Let faucets drip a little to help prevent freezing.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Winterize Your Home

  • Install storm shutters, doors and windows; clean out gutters; repair any roof leaks; and have a contractor check the stability of your roof in the event of a large accumulation of snow.
  • Insulate walls and attic. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows. Install storm windows, or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
  • Have safe emergency heating equipment available. For residences with functioning fireplaces, keep an ample supply of wood. Utilize portable electric space heaters. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Install and check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel; you may have difficulty obtaining fuel in the immediate aftermath of a bad storm.
  • Service snow removal equipment, and have rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways. Kitty litter can be used to generate temporary traction. 
  • Insulate pipes and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves in case pipes freeze and burst. 

Sidewalk snow removal

  • Colorado Springs requires property owners to clear their walkways so that EVERYONE has safe access throughout the City!  Senior citizens, people with disabilities, parents with strollers, and mail carriers -just to name a few- struggle to negotiate hazardous walkways.  We need to do our part to make our community safe and accessible for all.
  • Timing: Once snow has stopped falling, residents have twenty-four (24) hours and businesses until have until 5 p.m. the following day, to remove snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property.
  • Report A Problem: We encourage residents to work together to keep sidewalks clear for safe passage and kindly remind neighbors with un-shoveled sidewalks of the City's requirement.  To report a problem, please contact 385-5977 to provide the address of an un-shoveled sidewalk.
  • Education: Colorado Springs relies on citizen reports to help us identify property owners who need to be informed of sidewalk safety requirements.
  • Click Here to see city code that refers to snow removal on private sidewalks.  

Safety tips

  • Stretch before you go out. If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. This may prevent injury.
  • Cover your mouth. Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors.
  • Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unfamiliar exercise, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Take frequent rest breaks, and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothes frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Stay safe. Walk carefully on snowy or icy sidewalks. If using a snow blower, NEVER use your hands to unclog the machine.
  • Maintain an awareness of utilities when shoveling snow. Do not cover fire hydrants with snow when clearing sidewalks and driveways. Do not shovel snow into manholes and catch basins.
  • Offer to help individuals who require special assistance, including seniors and people with disabilities.

Fallen tree branches

Please call City Forestry at 385-5942 for downed limbs from city trees in the public right-of-way. After business hours, please leave a message with your name, address, and zip code and crews will pick up the branches when they are in the area. If it is an emergency, you can call the Colorado Springs Police Department's Dispatch at 719-444-7000.

City Forestry is unable to remove trees or branches from trees on your private property. These are the responsibility of private property owners.  Click for a list of licensed tree services

Trees or branches that have fallen on power lines or transformers should be reported to Colorado Springs Utilities at 448-4800.

Power outages

Find out/Report power outages here

Before a power outage

  • Fill plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one for the frozen water to expand. Place the containers in the refrigerator and freezer. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold for several hours if the power goes out.
  • Medication that requires refrigeration usually can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem
  • Back up computer files and operating systems.
  • Turn off and unplug major appliances and sensitive electric equipment until after power is restored.
  • Purchase a high-quality surge protector for electronic equipment.
  • Locate the manual release for your electric garage door opener and learn how to operate it.
  • Keep a traditional, non-cordless telephone available or plan for alternate communication, including a cell phone, radio or pager
  • Keep your car fuel tank at least half-full because gas stations rely on electricity to power the pumps.
  • Make sure to have extra cash at home because equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) may not work during a power outage.
  • Call CSU Line Clearance at 448-4800 if you need tree branches trimmed in or around electric lines.
  • Make arrangements to prepare for unpredictable power outages if you are on electric-powered life support systems by calling Colorado Springs Utilities at (719) 448-4800 and asking about the Life Support Notification Program.

During a power outage

  • Use a flashlight whenever possible rather than candles or kerosene lanterns, which are a fire hazard.
  • Do not use your range or oven to heat your home as this can cause a fire or fatal gas leak.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • Treat each signal as a four-way stop if traffic signals are not working
  • Do not call 911 to ask about the power outage.

After a power outage

  • In the event of a major storm, the status of your utilities may be monitored through the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) web page at www.csu.org.
  • Look for damage to an outside metal pipe or tube called a “mast,” that feeds electricity from overhead lines into the meter on your house.
    • This mast is the responsibility of the homeowner and is typically located at the roofline or the side of a home, coming out of the meter.
    • The mast should not be touched – customers can inspect the mast from a safe distance and call a licensed electrician for repairs if it is damaged.
    • Once the mast is repaired by an electrician, CSU can restore power to the home.

For additional information on power outages and other utility disruptions, see the Colorado Springs Utilities website at www.csu.org.

How to help others

  • Infants, seniors, and people with paralysis or neuropathy are at increased risk of hypothermia and frostbite. Check on friends, relatives, and neighbors who may need assistance to ensure they are adequately protected from the cold.
  • Community members that identify someone on the street they believe needs assistance should call the non-emergency dispatch number (719) 444-7000. Call 9-1-1 for a life threatening emergency. The Colorado Springs Police Department can dispatch someone from its Homeless Outreach Team to the location to assess the individual's condition and take appropriate action.
  • If you suspect a person is suffering from frostbite or hypothermia, bring him or her someplace warm and seek medical help immediately or call 911.
  • If medical help is unavailable, re-warm the person, starting at the core of their body. Warming arms and legs first can increase circulation of cold blood to the heart, which can lead to heart failure. Use a blanket, or if necessary, your own body heat to warm the person.
  • Do not give a person suffering frostbite or hypothermia alcohol or caffeine, both of which can worsen the condition. Instead, give the patient a cup of warm broth.
  • Be a good neighbor and shovel your sidewalk

Staying warm

Safe home heating tips

Improper use of portable heating equipment can lead to fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Take precautions to ensure you are heating your home safely.

Carbon monoxide safety tips

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home and check it regularly to make sure the battery is working.
  • Make sure your heating system is kept clean and properly vented; have worn or defective parts replaced.
  • Have your fireplace, chimney, and flue cleaned every year to remove soot deposits, leaves, etc.
  • Kerosene heaters are dangerous and illegal in the City of Colorado Springs.
  • Don't heat your home with a gas stove or oven.
  • Do not use any gas-powered appliance, such as a generator, indoors.
  • Never use a charcoal grill or a hibachi indoors.
  • Automobile exhaust contains carbon monoxide. Open your garage door before starting your car and do not leave the motor running in an enclosed area. Clear exhaust pipes before starting a car or truck after it snows.
  • The most common symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning is headache. However, symptoms may also include dizziness, chest pain, nausea, and vomiting. In severe cases, people can become increasingly irritable, agitated and confused, eventually becoming lethargic and lapsing into unconsciousness.
  • If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911, and get the victim to fresh air immediately, and open windows.

For more information on safe home heating, watch our CityTalk segment about it here.

Fire safety tips

  • Use only portable heating equipment that is approved for indoor use.
  • Keep combustible materials, including furniture, drapes, and carpeting at least three feet away from the heat source. NEVER drape clothes over a space heater to dry.
  • Always keep an eye on heating equipment. Never leave children alone in the room where a space heater is running. Turn it off when you are unable to closely monitor it.
  • Be careful not to overload electrical circuits.

Make sure you have a working smoke detector in every room. Check and change batteries often.

What to do if you lose heat

If you lose heat, take measures to trap existing warm air, and safely stay warm until heat returns:

  • Insulate your home as much as possible. Hang blankets over windows and doorways and stay in a well-insulated room while power is out.
  • Dress warmly. Wear hats, scarves, gloves, and layered clothing.
  • If you have a working fireplace, use it for heat and light, but be sure to keep the damper open for ventilation.
  • Open your faucets to a steady drip so pipes do not freeze.
  • Eat. Food provides your body with needed energy to produce its own heat and drinking helps your body avoid dehydration.
  • If the cold persists and your heat is not restored, call family, neighbors, or friends to see if you can stay with them.

                                                                                                                                      

Stay warm outdoors

Watch for signs of frostbite such as loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. Watch for signs of hypothermia including uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.

To assist a hypothermia victim 

  • Move the victim to a warm location.
  • Remove wet clothing.
  • Put the person in dry clothing and wrap his/her entire body in a blanket. 
  • Warm the center of the body first. 
  • Give warm, non-alcoholic or non-caffeinated beverages if the victim is conscious.
  • Get medical help as soon as possible. 

Additional resources

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Winter weather terms

Frost/Freeze Warning: Below freezing temperatures are expected and may cause significant damage to plants, crops, or fruit trees. In areas unaccustomed to freezing temperatures, people who have homes without heat need to take added precautions.

Winter Weather Advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected and may be hazardous, especially for motorists.

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. Take time to prepare. Make sure your emergency supply kits for home and car contain all of the items you may need.

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. Seek shelter and do not travel unless absolutely necessary.

Wind Advisory: Issued for average wind speeds between 31 and 39 miles an hour or for frequent wind gusts between 46 and 57 miles an hour.

High Wind Warning: Expected winds will average 40 miles an hour or more for at least 1 hour or wind gusts will be greater than 58 miles an hour. Trees and power lines can be blown down. A high wind warning may be preceded by a high wind watch if the strong winds are not expected to occur for at least 12 hours.

Blizzard Warning: Heavy snow and sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill. Seek refuge immediately. Blizzards are the most dangerous of winter storms with conditions that lead to frostbite and hypothermia. They can also cause damage to unsupported structures and homes.

Dense Fog Advisory: Issued when fog will reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less over a widespread area.

Wind chill: The wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin by combined effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Animals are also affected by wind chill. Information source: The National Weather Service

Winter Weather Links