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Winter Storms

Winter Storm Preparedness

Preparing for Winter Storms, from Washington Military Department, Division of Emergency Manangement

Preparing for Winter

Winter storms in the Northwest can range from days-long drizzle to moderate snow over a few hours or even to blizzard  conditions with blinding, wind-driven snow or freezing rain that lasting for several days. The time to prepare is before the rain, snow or ice starts to fall.

Begin by learning the warning terms:

  • A winter storm watch indicates severe winter weather may affect your area.
  • A winter storm warning indicates severe winter weather conditions are definitely on the way or may be occurring.
  • A blizzard warning means large amounts of falling or blowing snow and sustained winds of at least 35 miles per hour are expected for several hours.

Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio or television stations for weather reports and emergency information.  Other things you can do:

  • Dress in layers - wear mittens, wear a hat
  • Avoid overexertion
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia or frostbite (Never give a hypothermia or frostbite victim something with caffeine or alcohol. in it  Caffeine can cause the heart to beat  faster, alcohol can slow the heart - either way, they both hasten the effects cold has on the body.)
  • Conserve fuel by keeping your house cooler than normal - wear a sweater.
  • Refuel kerosene heaters outside and when in use - keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.

More Information

The Washington State Emergency Management Division (WSDEM) has created several informational flyers to help all of us prepare for winter and problems that may come up during winter weather.  They are available in Adobe PDF format, and in other formats directly from the WSDEM websiteYou are about to leave the Whatcom County Site - click globe for disclaimer, covering the following topics:


  • Before the flood - Things to do to be ready to evacuate if the situation worsens.
  • During the Flood - Steps to take while you are waiting for the order to evacuate
  • After the flood - Safety tips to follow before re-entering your home           
  • Flood Clean Up - Once the waters recede and it's safe to return Home
  • Saving Photographs After the Flood

 Winter Driving

  • Preparing Your Car for Winter
  • Starting your Car in Extremely Cold Conditions    
  • How to Jump-Start Your Car
  • How To Handle Your Car On Snow and Ice
  • Danger Zones Require Special Attention - Intersections, Hills, and Curves
  • Be Prepared -  If You're Stranded or Lost
  • What to Do if You're Trapped in a Car During a Winter Storm
  • Getting Unstuck From A Snowdrift         
  • Handling Sport Utility Vehicles - Fundamental Safety Rules for Safe Winter Driving

 Winter Weather

  • Preparing for Power Outages - What to do when the lights go out
  • Recommended Winter Clothing; Signs of hypothermia and frostbite
  • Tips for Businesses to Minimize Freeze Related Losses
  • Tips for Seniors - Emergency Preparedness Tips That Make Good Sense.
  • Using a Generator During Power Outages - Tips for Safety & Survival
  • When Caught in a Winter Storm - Outside, In a Vehicle, at Home or Elsewhere
  • Winter Weather Tips for people with special needs

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