Stutzke’s Stats: Do you know the difference between a winter storm watch and warning?

While the first day of winter is still a little more than a month away, we’ve already seen our first round of accumulating snow and we’ll likely see more in the weeks ahead. This week kicks off Winter Weather Awareness week in Illinois giving us all a good reminder of what we need to do to make sure we’ll be able to battle the elements safely, whether we’re working outdoors or traveling.

One of the most common, high-impact advisories we’re likely to see issued in the months ahead will be either a Winter Storm WATCH or a Winter Storm WARNING.

A Winter Storm WATCH is typically issued around 48 hours before a high-impact winter weather event is expected to unfold for a given area.  Think of it as an advanced heads up, that conditions and ingredients could potentially come together soon to produce heavy snow, sleet, and ice. Now is the time to start gathering your winter weather supplies such as salt, shovels, and making sure that your car has a full tank of gas.

A Winter Storm WARNING means life-threatening winter weather is likely. This can include heavy snowfall, sleet, and significant ice accumulation. The bottom line: significant travel impacts are likely and if possible you’ll want to avoid traveling altogether.

In the case that you MUST travel, a winter weather survival kit is a recommended. This kit should have the following items as the bare minimum:

A bag of cat litter or sand will be helpful, especially if you become stuck. Ice scrapers and heavy duty boots will keep you comfortable if you need to walk a distance to reach help. Also, don’t forget to keep the exhaust pipe of your vehicle clear of snow should you need to ride things out for a bit before help can arrive. The shovel will come in handy for that!

While its easy to assume that it will never happen to us and if anything these inclement weather conditions will just slow us down, don’t forget that significant winds and dangerous wind chills usually accompany these strong storm systems.

For your home you’ll want these essential items, especially during long-term power outages.

Like your vehicle, make sure the exhaust from your heating system has an escape route that isn’t blocked by ice and snow which could cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke

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