Weekly Wrap Up: January 13, 2018 #ARWX

Weekly Wrap Up: January 13, 2018 #ARWX

Welcome to another WeatherTogther Weekly Wrap Up. Overall, temperatures were slightly warmer in Hot Springs this past week than what was forecasted in last week’s 7 Day Forecast (the data for the forecasts come from Earth Networks). Here is a look at temperatures from my Earth Networks weather station in Hot Springs, Arkansas, over the past week.

This week also brought rain for the first time in 2018 to the Natural State. In addition to rain, Thursday evening and Friday morning saw some wintry mixed precipitation and snow fall across  Arkansas, although not enough to form any major accumulation. Here is a look at the rain totals this past week from my CoCoRaHS gauge in Hot Springs, Arkansas, as well as a map of rain totals across the state on January 7 from CoCoRaHS, plus a tweet from me Friday morning with a look at winter radar when the snow arrived in Hot Springs.

There was a beautiful sunset tonight on my Earth Networks HD Camera, and here’s a look at the camera image as well as the current conditions from my weather station in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Here’s also a look at tempeatures across the state from both NWS stations and Earth Networks stations (maps courtesy of Baron Threat Net and Earth Networks Sferic Maps).

Monday evening could see a wintry mix in Hot Springs, as well as snow across parts of North Arkansas. Here’s a look at forecast precipitation and snow accumulation maps for the regional Baron forecast model and WSI RPM model for around 5PM monday showing which parts of the state could see the most snow. The snow accumulations seem light for most of Arkansas and not a major winter event.

Here’s a look at the 7 day extended forecast for Hot Springs, Arkansas. In addition to the 60% PM wintry mix for Monday, there’s a 30% PM chance for rain, and with a possible low of 9 degrees on Tuesday? Brrr!

Here’s one more look at the beautiful sunset on my weather camera in Hot Springs, Arkansas, this evening.

Finally, here’s a look at some of this past week’s weather-related news:

That wraps it up here! Nathan Parker signing off!

Wintry Addition to Tonight’s Forecast #ARWX

Wintry Addition to Tonight’s Forecast #ARWX

In addition to the rain Arkansas is receiving today that I mentioned in the seven day forecast in my Weekly Wrap Up on Saturday, parts of the state may also receive some wintry precipitation in addition to the rain. Here’s a look at the high-resolution current Arkansas Radar, where Northwest Arkansas can already possibly be seeing a wintry mix picked up on Snow Machine (most maps courtesy of Baron Threat Net).

Some parts of the state are under a Winter Weather Advisory, with some under a Lake Wind Advisory and Northeast Arkansas under a Winter Storm Warning.

Here is also a look at the Baron forecast model and WSI RPM model for 11PM when Garland County has the best chance of possibly receiving wintry precipitation tonight.

I’ll be tweeting out updates on my Twitter @theparkernathan in the event of any winter-weather updates this evening.

That wraps it up here! Nathan Parker signing off.

Weekly Wrap Up: January 6, 2018 #ARWX

Weekly Wrap Up: January 6, 2018 #ARWX

Welcome to my first edition of Weekly Wrap Up, a new weekly blog post series I’ll be posting on Saturdays with a look back at the past week’s weather in Arkansas, as well as a look ahead of the weather to come. I’ll conclude each post with a series of links to weather news I’ve encountered in the past week. I look forward to hearing your feedback on my series, and I hope you enjoy it. If it’s been a bit since you’ve clicked around on my blog, I also recommend checking it out, as I’ve recently added some additional links to it to build it out more into a full-featured mini weather site versus just showcasing my blog entries.

This past week brought in the new year for 2018, as well as a freezing in the new year with temperatures bitterly cold across the state. In fact, we were actually colder than Alaska a few of the days! Most of the nation also experienced bitterly cold temperatures, and people bringing in 2018 are likely going to be saying “Make America Warm Again”. There was no rain and no severe weather events this past week in Arkansas. Here’s a look at the past week’s high and low temperatures from my Earth Networks personal weather station.

Here’s a look at the current conditions from my weather station this evening, as well as current temperatures across the state (maps courtesy of Baron Threat Net and Earth Networks Sferic Maps).

Tomorrow will likely see the first rain in Arkansas for 2018. For those in Hot Springs and central Arkansas, the most intense of the rain will likely hit around 10PM. Here’s a look at FutureCast for tomorrow at 10PM from the Baron forecast model for Arkansas and for the region.

By Monday at 5AM when the bulk of the rain event has moved out of the state, here are the rainfall total potentials across Arkansas from the Baron forecast model.

One question residents of Arkansas are wondering if there is a chance of any wintry precipitation tomorrow for Arkansas. There is a slight chance of wintry precipitation tomorrow for North Arkansas around Harrison, Mountain Home, and Eureka Springs, but it’s likely not to be a major event or cause any major travel issues except for a couple potential ice patches. Here’s Tweet from the NWS in Little Rock concerning the chance of wintry preciptiation in Arkansas.

Here’s also a look at the 7 day extended forecast for Hot Springs Arkansas. Expect heavy rain chances for Sunday and some rain chances for Monday, as well as a 40% chance or rain on Thursday. Temperatures will be on the increase through Thursday and begin falling off again Friday.

Here’s a picture of the snow event from Chipper McDonald in Purdy, VA from the winter weather event that hit New England this week. Thanks for sharing this Chipper!

Lastly, here’s a look at the weather news over the past week:

Winter Weather Safety: Part 5-Dealing with Power and Internet Outages

Winter Weather Safety: Part 5-Dealing with Power and Internet Outages

In Part 5 of our series on winter weather safety, I want to cover how to deal with power and Internet outages, as both can cause major inconveniences for residents, as well as cause critical issues for those who rely on continued power for mission-critical services.

The first thing I recommend all consumers do is to download their energy provider’s mobile app, as well as include the phone number for their energy provider’s report outage service. For many customers in Arkansas, Entergy Arkansas is the local energy provider. Customers can download the Entergy mobile app, as well as enroll in text messaging alerts by clicking here. To call the Entergy Arkansas Report Outage service, the phone number is 1-800-968-8243‬. Customers who are enrolled in text messaging alerts can also text out to ‭368-374. Keeping these numbers programmed into your phone contacts makes it easier to report an outage, especially late at night when it is difficult to find your paper energy bill for those who still receive paper bills (which is another good reason to keep the energy provider’s mobile app on your phone in case you need to quickly access your account information). I also recommend using the text option versus the call-in option if possible, as Entergy’s phone lines, as well as mobile service in general, will likely incur a larger volume of calls during a power outage, so using the text option to report an outage will allow Entergy to log and respond to the outage in a more timely manner, as well as reduce overall pressure on a mobile provider’s network. Energy companies should also consider looking into intelligent home energy monitoring solutions such as the sensor from Whisker Labs. Whisker Labs offers a simple, DIY home energy sensor that can transmit data via the web to allow customers to better monitor their home energy usage, as well as allow energy providers to better adjust for demand response during winter weather events and be notified quicker of energy outages when energy data stops flowing to them (Whisker Labs also uses Earth Networks weather data and was a subsidary of Earth Networks). Entergy Arkansas is not currently part of the Whisker Labs program, but I have recommended it to them, and I hope they will join in the future.

I also recommend customers have easy access to their energy provider’s power outage map. For customers in Arkansas serviced by Entergy Arkansas, click here to access the Entergy Arkansas power outage map (it is also available to customers in the Entergy mobile app; another benefit of the map is that it includes a weather radar layer from Earth Networks). I will also periodically post screenshots of the Entergy Arkansas power outage map to my Twitter during major weather events. The Entergy Arkansas Storm Center link is also a beneficial website to check during major severe and winter weather events for updates from Entergy Arkansas and power-related issues.

If consumers depend on their power for mission-critical services such as medical equipment, then it may be a good idea to consider either a portable home generator or a whole home generator. However, generators come with their own additional costs and safety measures, so I recommend them more for consumers who require power for mission-critical services versus those who merely enjoy the benefits of their home power for their comfort. While I love having the power on at my house, I have been able to adjust through energy outages, and I thankfully live in an area with underground utility lines and near major businesses that rely on mission-critical power needs, so I have not suffered through too extensive of a power outage at my residence yet. A UPS (uninterrupted power supply) can be handy to keep certain devices online during an outage (such as electronic devices), although I’ve noticed the batteries in these devices don’t last an extended period of time, so they are usually not worth the added investment unless one needs to run mission-critical electronic devices.

In addition to power outages, Internet outages can also occur during a winter weather event, either on its own during freezing temperatures, or during a power outage when power is knocked out to homes without a generator or UPS. In most cases, the ISP’s power will remain up, although power outages at the infrastructure of some ISP equipment has been known to occur (for example, my ISP which is a local point-to-point wireless ISP, has installed a backup generator and dedicated fiber connection at the wireless tower that services my home Internet connection, so my Internet will likely stay up during a power outage, although some of their less-established towers are outfitted with battery backup devices, so occasionally one of their towers could go offline). Cellular connections will generally stay online during major power or Internet outage events. For public safety officials who need mission-critical access to  winter and severe weather data in the event of a major network outage as well as poor cellular coverage or a cellular network outage, I recommend Mobile Threat Net from Baron Weather. Baron Threat Net relies on satellite-driven connection versus an Internet connection, ensuring public safety professionals can continue to receive critical weather data no matter what. Mobile Threat Net also includes a full-suite of Baron’s exclusive weather data, including winter weather monitoring, so it is an ideal solution for public safety professionals.

Consumers who use Internet-based home phone service (as well as a home signal booster) will also notice during a power or Internet outage, the home phone service will be knocked offline. For those who still need some form of affordable Internet-based home phone service, I recommend the LineLink from T-Mobile, as the LineLink (as well as all of T-Mobile voice lines) includes free access to T-Mobile DIGITS, which allows one to receive calls with a single phone number across multiple devices. I personally own a T-Mobile LineLink myself. If my T-Mobile LineLink home phone service is knocked offline, calls are routed to my cell phone, so I’ll never miss an important call.

Here are a few additional tips for ensuring you can continue communicating during a power or home Internet outage:

  • Keep all your devices fully charged before a major winter weather event, just in case a power or home Internet outage occurs that requires you to use your mobile devices as your primary means of communication.
  • Consider devices such as a tablet, cellular-connected smart watch, mobile hotspot, or your smartphone’s mobile hotspot feature. T-Mobile makes it affordable to add an unlimited tablet or cellular-connected smart watch onto a T-Mobile ONE plan (especially in the months one doesn’t use much cellular data on a tablet with KickBack), and unlimited 3G smartphone mobile hotspot is included with all T-Mobile ONE plans, with affordable options for 10GB or unlimited mobile hotspot for smartphones. T-Mobile DIGITS integration also ensures you can continue to make and receive calls and messages across multiple devices.
  • Power off your devices completely when you’re not actively using them in order to save on battery life (since they can still utilize battery during sleep mode), as well as enable your devices’ Battery Saver mode feature. Dimming your screen, limiting which apps you run in the background, and limiting data-intensive apps such as social media apps, streaming music and video apps, and apps that rely on your mobile device’s geolocation services, will also save on battery life. Attempt to only use one device at a time instead of keeping multiple devices powered on and operating to extend battery life across all your devices.
  • Use texting over calling when possible, as texting will utilize fewer network resources, extending your device’s battery life, as well as placing less overall strain on the cellular network during a major weather event.
  • For extended power outages and on days when the sun peeks from behind the clouds, a solar charger may also be a benefical investment to power up some of your devices, and external battery packs or battery cases can extend battery life in devices as well.

I also highly recommend investing in a solid NOAA weather radio with battery backup to ensure you can continue to receive winter weather-related information. You’ll want a NOAA weather radio with SAME technology. Here is the list of SAME codes for the United States and for Arkansas. For Garland County, use code 005051 and transmitter 162.550. Getting a phone that is WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts) capable is also recommended, although WEA alerts are not generally sent during winter weather events.

I hope you have enjoyed this series on winter weather safety, and let us know if you have any additiona winter weather safety questions or comments or would like us to cover any additional winter weather safety topics!

That wraps it up here! Nathan Parker signing off.

Winter by Degrees Webinar from Baron Weather

Winter by Degrees Webinar from Baron Weather

(Image courtesy of Baron Weather)

Earlier this week, I posted a blog post concerning winter weather training as a part of a series of winter weather safety. Included in the blog post is a link to the Winter by Degrees eBook from Baron Weather. Baron has also released a recording of the companion webinar that accompanies the eBook. I highly recommend watching it, as it provides some excellent training concerning winter weather in addition to reading the eBook.

Winter Weather Safety: Part 4-Winter Weather Closings and Cancellations

Winter Weather Safety: Part 4-Winter Weather Closings and Cancellations

In Part 4 of our winter weather safety series, I want to take a brief moment to discuss winter weather closings and cancellations. During winter weather events, wintry precipitation can cause winter weather closings, cancellations, and delays, especially of area schools (and on weekends church events).

The best way to keep a track on winter weather closings and cancellations is through your local television stations. For those in central Arkansas, our Little Rock stations KARK 4, KATV 7, THV 11, and FOX 16 each have their own winter weather closings page on their website, as well as the stations will generally run the closings at the bottom of the screen during television broadcasts.

For those in Hot Springs, our local newspaper, the Sentinel Record, may also mention major winter weather closings and cancellations, so residents in Hot Springs and Garland County may also check there as well.

If any major winter weather closings or cancellations occur, I will also try to share them here on my WeatherTogether blog as well as my Twitter. However, for the most timely manner of receiving winter weather closings and cancellations, I recommend using the methods above.

Schools and churches may also offer their own notification service for school students or church members, and I highly recommend checking in with your local school or church you attend to see if they offer such a notification service. A solid notification service I used in a church I served at in Georgia is One Call Now.

That wraps it up here! Nathan Parker signing off.

Good Info from CoCoRaHS on Reporting Snow and Winter Conditions

Good Info from CoCoRaHS on Reporting Snow and Winter Conditions

I received an email today from CoCoRaHS which clarifies some good information about reporting snow and winter conditions to them. For those who haven’t read the email yet, here’s an excerpt from it from Nolan and the CoCoRaHS team:

A good question about reporting snow.

I received this question this morning from a North Carolina weather watcher, and realized it may be relevant for many of us.

“I viewed the videos and PDF presentation on measuring snow, but I’m still a little confused about the recording requirements. Can you tell me if all of the blocks need to be filled out that are related to snow, or, if not, what is the required information that should always be entered?”

Here is how I answered:
The first priority, of course, is the precipitation amount — rain plus the melted water content from any snow and ice that fell. Beyond that it’s at your discretion.  Personally, I try to fill out all values every day.   For example, even on dry days with no precipitation and no snow remaining on the ground,  I type in and submit 0.0 so that it confirms no snow. That is ideal but not required.  The only required field is “rain and melted snow ” (i.e. the water content of the precip)  All other fields (new snow, core sample water content of new snow, total depth of old/new snow, and water content of total snow on ground (the SWE)) are greatly appreciated.  But they are not required.  Measure and report what you can.  Leave the others NA if you don’t take those measurements.

Snow Depth — the depth of snow (both old and new) remaining on the ground at your observation time.

I’ve noticed that quite a few of us skip this measurement, or report it only when new snow has fallen.  But arguably it my be the single most important reading of any of our snow observations since it relates most closely to the impact snow is having on transportation, recreation and public safety in an area.  You can infer a lot about the character of the snow, too, from day to day changes in snow depth.  Many people tell me it’s a difficult measurement.  I would argue it’s OK to start with an estimate — maybe just by looking out your window. With uneven snow it may be very difficult to determine if you have an average depth of 3.0, 4.0 or 5.5″ — but it’s easy to estimate if it’s closest to 1″, 4″, 8″ or 12″. Once it’s more than 12″ it gets challenging again, and you may do best to have a semi-permanent ‘snow stake” mounted in the ground in a convenient location.  For more info on measuring snow depth (as opposed to new snowfall): https://youtu.be/2zbDygoJ2D4

“Condition Reports” —

Are you getting wetter or drier?  Is your winter snowpack greater or less than average?  How about the streams around you?  Are they flowing more or less than “normal” for this time of year?  Add value to your CoCoRaHS precipitation reports by adding weekly “Condition” updates.  https://cocorahs.org/Content.aspx?page=condition

Winter precipitation measurement made easy (or at least easier) — use your kitchen scale

If you’ve got a kitchen scales that reads to the nearest gram, you may be in luck: https://cocorahs.org/media/docs/Training_SnowByWeight.pdf

Freezing rain

Based on historical experience, January and  February are the core months of the freezing rain season.  Do you know how to measure and report freezing rain?  If not, don’t wait until its glazing .  https://youtu.be/rLwlaP_CFl8

Winter Weather Safety: Part 3-Tracking Cold Temperatures and Winter Precipitation

Winter Weather Safety: Part 3-Tracking Cold Temperatures and Winter Precipitation

In Part 3 of our winter weather safety series, we’ll be discussing tracking cold temperatures and winter precipitation. Cold temperatures and winter precipitation are the two major factors of a winter weather event, and it is important to be informed of the some of the best ways to keep a track concerning winter weather.

When it comes to tracking cold temperatures and winter weather precipitation, one of the tools I personally use here on my WeatherTogether blog as well as on social media to power many of the graphics is Baron Threat Net from Baron Weather (I’m using the Public Safety version of Baron Threat Net). With Baron Threat Net, I am able to track temperatures across the state and across the nation (from official NWS reporting locations), as well as track future temperatures up to 96 hours in advance using the Baron temperature model. Baron Threat Net also includes the higest-resolution radar data for the nation that includes winter precipitation tracking, and I can easily query the map data to differentiate between rain, snow, and freezing precipitation. I also have access to FutureScan which allows me to project the radar and winter radar up to an hour in advance, ideal for knowing if a winter weather event is imminent or how long the winter weather event is going to last. For longer-range winter weather tracking, I can use the forecast precipitation (which is a FutureCast radar model with winter precipitation tracking) and snow accumulation models as part of the Baron model to track winter conditions up to 96 hours in advance. Below are some sample screenshots of Baron Threat Net showing a winter radar map, FutureScan winter radar map, forecast precipitation model map, snow accumulation model map, and current and future temperatures maps.

Baron Threat Net also offers text messaging and email alerts as a part of their patented SAF-T-NET alerting service for public safety officials, which are extremely beneficial because in addition to NWS alerts, Baron Threat Net also offers exclusive proximity alerts when snow or freezing precipitation is arriving, as well as alerts when freezing temperatures occur (the alerts are currently static, however, so one cannot customize the temperature threshold or the distance of approaching winter precipitation). Baron Threat Net also includes its own mobile app (although alerts are currently email or text message-based only). For those interested in taking a free trial of Baron Threat Net to take a test drive of some the same tools I use for tracking winter weather, please contact Cliff Windham on the public safety team. Consumers can access the same SAF-T-NET alerting features, as well as the high resolution winter radar, 1 hour FutureScan, current temperature map, and Baron forecast model for forecast precipitation using the Baron Critical Weather app for iOS and Android.

Another tool I use for tracking cold temperatures as well as winter precipitation that powers some of the graphics on my WeatherTogether blog and social media posts is Sferic Maps from Earth Networks. I handle IT consulting for Earth Networks, and I am pleased to be part of their team. Where Earth Networks shines is in owning the world’s largest live, local weather network (in fact, Baron Threat Net above uses Earth Networks for its lightning data provider). I can access weather station data from practically anywhere in the world, and across the nation. Earth Networks offers live, local weather stations in neighborhood locations such as schools, government facilities, resorts, etc., which allows me to track weather conditions from a larger variety of professional-grade weather stations that update live versus just looking at NWS stations which are generally located at airports. During winter weather, having the additional data points is extremely beneficial for tracking winter temperatures, as well as the winter precipitation radar layer in Sferic Maps utilizes the Earth Networks weather network’s temperature data to accurately fine-tune where rain and winter precipitation is falling (the drawback is Sferic Maps only utilizes Level III for NEXRAD radar which refreshes more slowly and isn’t the higher-resolution of Baron’s Level II NEXRAD radar; I’d love to see Baron and Earth Networks team up to deliver a nationwide Level II radar mosaic which factors in the Earth Networks temperature data fine-tuning as it would be an ideal winter precipitation tracking solution). Below are a couple of sample maps from Sferic Maps showing a temperatures map as well as winter precipitation radar map.

Earth Networks also includes its own alerting service in its mobile app, Sferic Mobile (the alerts are available in a mobile app unlike Baron Threat Net, plus its proximity alerts can be customized to a particular temperature threshold or lightning distance, however, Baron SAF-T-NET offers a greater range of proximity alerts for severe and winter weather that are not available in Sferic Mobile, so each service has its own advantages and disadvantages). For enterprise customers interested in taking a test drive of Sferic Maps and Sferic Mobile and putting some of the same tools I use for tracking winter weather to the test, please contact the Earth Networks sales team. For consumers interested in weather alerting applications that take advantage of Earth Networks weather data (in addition to Baron Critical Weather above which uses Earth Networks data for lightning alerts), I recommend checking out the Weather Radio app by WDT (which is similar to a pocket version of a NOAA Weather Radio), as well as WeatherBug, which in addition to weather alerts also offers the same winter precipitation radar layer discussed above as well as a temperature maps layer and exclusive live current conditions from the Earth Networks weather network. WeatherBug also includes access to ENCast from Earth Networks which allows consumers to track accurate hourly forecasts for virtually any area around the world (enterprises can also contact Earth Networks sales directly to learn more about ENCast).

Additional model maps I have access to for tracking cold temperatures and winter weather are the WSI RPM model which I will check in tandem with the Baron forecast models to get an overall picture of each winter weather event, as well as for access to other model maps such as the GFS and NAM models, I use our own in-house model maps page here at WeatherTogether. The WSI RPM model isn’t publicly accessible (since it is proprietary), but the public can access our in-house model maps page here at WeatherTogether for free, and we have additional model datasets coming in the works, so stay tuned for more. Below are a few sample maps from the WSI RPM model (4K) showing future winter precipitation, snow accumulation, and temperatures, plus a sample temperature model map from our in-house model maps page here at WeatherTogether. Two drawbacks I have with the WSI RPM model maps is they only cap off at regional level, whereas with the Baron model maps I can zoom into state level, plus the Baron model maps are overall more accurate than the WSI RPM model maps in my testing (the Baron model maps currently are at 5K resolution, and I would like to see them eventually upgrade the resolution to either 4K or even better 3K).


I also recommend consumers check with their local government officials to see if they offer a government alerts service. For residents of the city of Hot Springs (as well as most residents in Garland County), the service is CodeRED (free for residents). CodeRED offers phone call and email alerts to city residents, and while they do not specifically cover winter weather alerts (only severe weather alerts), if there are specific messages from city officials that residents should be aware of during a winter weather events, CodeRED is likely the alerting medium city officials would use. I recommend all Hot Springs residents signup for the service.

Cold temperatures can also cause a strain on the energy grid as well as elevated energy bills during the winter months as customers use more energy to power their heating systems. Consumers should check with their local energy providers to see if their local energy providers have enrolled in an energy-saving service such as Connected Savings by Whisker Labs (Whisker Labs uses Earth Networks weather data to power its intelligence and was formerly a subsidiary of Earth Networks). Connected Savings works with smart thermostats and smart-home systems such as SmartThings to create a thermodynamic model of a customer’s home, as well as creates an energy ScoreCard to show consumers how the weather is affecting their energy usage (weather is the number one driver of home energy use and responsible for up to 50% of a home’s total energy usage). Connected Savings also offers demand response to ensure homes stay warm, energy bills remain lowered, and the power grid isn’t overtaxed during extreme weather conditions such as winter weather events (at the moment, Entergy Arkansas who powers many Arkansas homes, is not a member of the Connected Savings by Whisker Labs program at the moment, but I have suggested it to Entergy Arkansas, and I hope they will join the program sometime).

Cold temperatures can also cause issues with pipes freezing and bursting during winter weather events. I highly recommend watching this video segment from our local station KARK4 News in Little Rock, Arkansas, to learn more about protecting your pipes during winter weather events. You’ll be thankful for not having to endure frozen, bursting pipes, your plumber will thank you for not having a mess on his hands, and your home insurance provider will be thankful that you don’t need to make a home insurance claim.

Last of all, here are a few additional tips from the National Weather Service concerning how to prepare one’s home Before the Storm and what to do During the Storm during a winter weather event.

Before the Storm

Your primary concerns at home or work during a winter storm are loss of heat, power and telephone service and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day. In either place, you should have available:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio to receive emergency information
  • Extra food and water such as dried fruit, nuts and granola bars, and other food requiring no cooking or refrigeration.
  • Extra prescription medicine
  • Baby items such as diapers and formula
  • First-aid supplies
  • Heating fuel: refuel before you are empty; fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a winter storm
  • Emergency heat source: fireplace, wood stove or space heater, properly ventilated to prevent a fire
  • Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm; test smoke alarms once a month to ensure they work properly
  • Extra pet food and warm shelter for pets
  • Review generator safety. You should never run a generator in an enclosed space
  • Make sure your carbon dioxide detector is working detector and that the outside vent is clear of leaves and debris. During or after the storm, make sure it is cleared of snow.
  • Home fires are common each winter when trying to stay warm. Review ways to keep your home and loved ones safe.

During the Storm

Stay Inside: When using heat from a fire place, wood stove, space heater, etc., use fire safeguards and properly ventilate. If you have a gas furnace, make sure it is not not blocked by a snowdrift as soon as it’s safe to go out. If you have an upstairs gas furnace which vents out the roof, you may need to turn off the upstairs unit until the snow melts off your roof.

If Your Heat Goes Out

  • Close off unneeded rooms to avoid wasting heat.
  • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
  • Close blinds or curtains to keep in some heat.
  • Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Drinks lots of water and other non-caffeinated, non-alcholohic drinks to prevent dehydration. Cold air is very dry.
  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration and subsequent chill.

That wraps it up here! Nathan Parker signing off.

Winter Weather Safety: Part 2-Winter Road and Driving Safety

Winter Weather Safety: Part 2-Winter Road and Driving Safety

In Part 2 of our series on winter weather safety, we’re going to take a look at winter road and driving safety. Staying safe on the road during winter weather is one of the most important aspects of winter weather safety since it can easily be the one of the most deadly or cause the most damage to vehicles when winter weather vehicle accidents occur.

The first thing I recommend for our readers is to always check for road conditions during a winter weather event before venturing out on the road. For those in Arkansas, the official road conditions map released by the Arkansas Department of Transportation is iDrive Arkansas, which is available online on their website or available as a mobile app. Here is a sample image from the iDrive Arkansas website (we don’t watermark our WeatherTogether logo on images shared from iDrive Arkansas to remain in compliance with AR DOT’s guidelines):

Another road conditions map I have access to that I’ll be using in my blog posts and on social media is the exclusive ThreatMatrix road conditions map by Baron Weather available in Baron Threat Net. With ThreatMatrix by Baron, I can zoom into any area across the state or nation even down to street level and get a look at the latest road conditions, as well as easily query the data on the map so readers can more easily see which road conditions are occurring in a given area. The other benefit is Baron now offers a road conditions forecast model map, allowing me to project into the future what the potential road conditions are going to be for a given area before the road conditions actually arrive. It is a super beneficial tool that is a part of my winter weather toolbox. These road conditions maps are also beneficial during severe weather when tracking flooded roads, so they have a benefit beyond winter weather as well. I wish I had this tool when I lived a few years in Georgia, as while Arkansas DOT makes it super simple to find road conditions across the state, I had a difficult time finding Georgia DOT’s official road conditions map when living there. Here is a sample of road conditions maps and road conditions forecast maps in Baron Threat Net:

Our readers can also access ThreatMatrix by Baron for the current road conditions (not road conditions forecasts) by downloading the free Baron Critical Weather app for iOS or Android.

If either road conditions map show winter precipitation covering the roads you need to travel, we recommend staying off the road until the roads have cleared (and generally we recommend checking the official road conditions map from your state’s DOT to ensure it shows all clear before traveling out; for those in Arkansas, it is iDrive Arkansas) unless it is critical that you travel on the roads. Traveling on the roads during winter weather events increases your chance of vehicle accidents, so planning your trips around winter weather events is the best move you can make when possible. Your vehicle insurance company (in my case, I use State Farm from Clay Combs agency in Hot Springs, Arkansas) likely offers discounts on your vehicle insurance policy when you drive safe and aren’t involved in any vehicle accidents, and the quickest way to avoid a vehicle accident on the road is to limit or elimiate your driving during major winter weather events. Installing your vehicle insurance provider’s mobile application onto your smartphone is also a smart move to make prior to a major winter weather event just in case you need access to your vehicle insurance’s information during a winter weather event such as in the unfortunate case of an accident.

I also recommend that you enroll in some from of 24/7 Roadside Assistance program before a major winter weather event in case your vehicle has an issue while on the road. Your vehicle insurance provider is likely the ideal place to enroll in 24/7 Roadside Assistance (State Farm offers it, and the phone number for State Farm’s 24/7 Roadside Assistance is 877-627-5757). T-Mobile customers can also look into the SyncUP Drive, which not only offers Roadside Assistance (from Allstate Motor Club), as well as other handy features such as: in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, real-time car diagnostics (using your car’s OBDII connector), and vehicle safety (so you’ll know if someone attempts to break into or hit your car). I own a SyncUP Drive myself, and it has been a super-handy way to better understand my car’s metrics and offer an additional level of protection for it.

Finally, here are some benefical tips from the National Weather Service concerning what you should do Before the Storm and During the Storm in terms of winter weather safety.

Before the Storm

Each year, on average, more than 6,000 people are killed and more than 480,000 are injured due to weather-related vehicle crashes. If you need to drive in snow or cold conditions, TAKE IT SLOW IN THE SNOW. Black ice can be difficult to see. If the temperature is near freezing, drive like you’re on ice–you may be!

Before you leave the house, especially before a longer trip in winter, make sure all fluid levels are full and ensure that the lights, heater, and windshield wipers in proper condition. Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. Avoid traveling alone. Let someone know your timetable and primary and alternate routes. Then call 511 for the latest traffic and road incidents, including construction and weather conditions and restrictions. Every state offers this Department of Transportation service. Call before you leave, it might change your plans!

Fully check and winterize your vehicle before the winter season begins. Carry a Winter Storm Survival Kit that includes the following:

  • Mobile phone, charger, batteries
  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Firstaid kit
  • Knife
  • High-calorie, non-perishable food
  • Extra clothing to keep dry
  • Large empty can to use as emergency toilet, tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes
  • Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Sack of sand or cat litter for traction
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Tool kit
  • Tow rope
  • Battery booster cables
  • Water container
  • Candle and matches to provide light and in an emergency, lifesaving heat.
  • Compass and road maps, don’t depend on moble devices with limited battery life

During the Storm

If you must drive during a storm, take the following precautions:

  • Slow down! Even if the roads just look wet they could still be slick. More than 6,000 fatalities occur on the roadways each year due to weather conditions.
  • Make sure your vehicle is completely clear of ice or snow before starting the trip. Flying snow from cars causes accidents.
  • Let someone know where you are going and what route you will take. If something happens, this person will know where to start a search.
  • Don’t leave the house without the following a fully charged mobile phone and car charger and a emergency supplies kit in your car.
  • If you are driving and begin to skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas and turn your wheels in the direction you want the front of the car to go. If you have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply steady pressure to the brake pedal. Never pump the brakes on an ABS equipped vehicle.
  • If you are having trouble seeing due to weather conditions, pull over to the side of the road and stop your car until visibility improves. Turn off your lights and use your parking break when stopped so that another car won’t mistakenly follow your tail/brake lights and end up hitting you.

If your car gets stuck during a storm:

  • Stay in the vehicle!
    • If you leave your vehicle, you will become disoriented quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
    • Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat.
    • While running the motor, open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Clear snow from the exhaust pipe to avoid gas poisoning.
  • Be visible to rescuers.
    • Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine.
    • Tie a bright colored cloth, preferably red, to your antenna or door.
    • After snow stops falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.

That wraps it up here! Nathan Parker signing off!

Winter Weather Safety: Part 1-Winter Weather Training and Reporting Winter Weather

Winter Weather Safety: Part 1-Winter Weather Training and Reporting Winter Weather

Update: The Winter by Degrees webinar from Baron Weather is now available here.

This week, I’ll be featuring a series on winter weather safety blog posts on my WeatherTogether blog. In Part 1 of this series, we’re going to take a look at some resources for winter weather training, as well as some ways in which you can report winter weather conditions in your area.

One of the best places you can find winter weather safety training is from the National Weather Service WRN website. WeatherTogether is a member of the NWS WRN (WeatherReady Nation) program as an ambassador, and we are pleased to share informative winter weather safety training from the NWS with readers of our blog. Some of the training content used in this series will come from this beneficial website.

For those interested in learning more about the 2017-2018 winter weather season, check out this 2017-2018 Winter Weather Outlook from the meteorologist team at Earth Networks, a company I am pleased to handle IT consulting for. The team presents an excellent overview of the current winter weather season and shows viewers what to expect for our winter.

Another excellent training resource for winter weather safety, especially for those involved in public safety, check out the free Winter by Degrees eBook from the meteorologists at Baron Weather. I use Baron Threat Net to power many of my storm tracking and weather graphics on my WeatherTogether blog and on social media, and the eBook offers some valuable information concerning winter weather safety across each of the major regions in the US. There is also a companion Winter by Degrees webinar recording I am working on getting a copy of from Baron to share on here.

One question our readers generally have during winter weather is, while everyone understands the basic concept of snow, some are a little confused in terms of what exactly is freezing rain, sleet, and wind chill. Here are a few definitions from the National Weather Service concerning these important terms to know during winter weather:

  • Freezing Rain: Rain that freezes when it hits the ground; creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
  • Sleet: Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Wind Chill: A measure of how cold people feel due to the combined effect of wind and cold temperatures; the Wind chill Index is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin. Both cold temperatures and wind remove heat from the body; as the wind speed increases during cold conditions, a body loses heat more quickly. Eventually, the internal body temperature also falls and hypothermia can develop. Animals also feel the effects of wind chill; but inanimate objects, such as vehicles and buildings, do not. They will only cool to the actual air temperature, although much faster during windy conditions. Read how the Wind Chill Index was developed.

This presentation from the National Weather Service also goes into details concerning the hazards of winter weather and is a beneficial read as well. I also recommend reading these two articles that explain how to prepare for winter weather Before the Storm as well as how to handle winter weather During the Storm.

Another question our readers generally have during winter weather is, what is the difference between the major types of winter weather watches, warnings, and advisories as issued by the National Weather Service? Here are the official definitions from the National Weather Service concerning the different major types of winter weather advisories that occur:

  • Winter Storm Watch: A watch means that severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow or ice, may affect your area, but where, when and how much is still uncertain. NWS issues a watch to provide 12 to 36 hours notice of possible severe winter weather. A watch is intended to provide enough lead time for you to prepare.
  • Winter Storm Warning NWS issues a warning when its scientists forecast 4 or more inches of snow or sleet in the next 12 hours, 6 or more inches in 24 hours, or 1/4 inch or more of ice accretion.
  • Winter Weather Advisories inform you that winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If caution is exercised, advisory situations should not become life-threatening.
  • Blizzard Warning let you know that snow and strong winds will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill.

In terms of reporting winter weather conditions in your area, there are a few ways in which you can assist the NWS, weather organizations, and us during winter weather. First of all, if you’re interested in starting your own weather blog on here as a contributing blogger on WeatherTogether, we’d love to have you join, and it’s free and easy to join. You can also share winter weather reports with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages (you’re also welcome to share winter weather reports on my Twitter page). I also recommend sharing winter weather reports with your local television meteorologists on their social media pages.

Another excellent place to report winter weather conditions, especially snow depth or freeing precipitation amounts, is CoCoRaHS. CoCoRaHS offers an excellent training page on how to report winter conditions to them, and they’re grateful for any regular winter reports they can receive in addition to daily rainfall reports.

One of the most beneficial places to report winter conditions to is mPING. mPING is a crowd-sourced weather reporting tool the NWS uses to verify on the ground what the NWS is seeing on radar, which helps improve their forecasting. This is especially beneficial during winter weather. Users can either download the free mPING app in order to report weather conditions or use the RadarScope app to send in mPING reports (which also doubles as a super-handy weather radar app).

Additionally, spotters who have been trained in the official NWS SKYWARN or the private-sector nonprofit Spotter Network program can also report winter conditions to these two spotter programs. SKYWARN is a part of the NWS and allows a trained spotter to relay reports directly to the NWS. Spotter Network is a nonprofit program also heavily used by trained storm spotters to relay severe weather reports, in which they also receive winter weather reports.

That wraps it up here! Nathan Parker signing off.