Northwest Iowa — While our recent warm temperatures don’t resemble winter weather, this is Winter Weather Awareness Day in Iowa.
Wintertime poses a wide range of threats. Whether it be exposure to the cold, vehicle accidents caused by slick roads, or fires resulting from the improper use of heaters, hundreds of people are injured or killed each year as a direct result of winter weather.
We talked to National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp at the Sioux Falls office, who says now is the time to prepare.
He says probably the most important place to be prepared for winter weather is on the roads.
Heitkamp says that their system of telling people about severe winter weather is a “stair-step” approach.
He says if a blizzard warning is issued it usually means an extended period of low visibility — basically “white out” conditions — and high winds. Often snow will also be falling during a blizzard. He says a blizzard warning is a life-threatening condition which needs to be taken seriously.
As far as winter predictions, Heitkamp says by next weekend, November 19th and 20th, it will start feeling a little more winter-like.
He says it’s looking more like La Nina will play a factor this time, which would mean a colder and snowier winter, but he says at this time he doesn’t expect the winter to be any better or worse than other years. He says his best prediction right now would be for below-normal temperatures and about average snowfall, which would be about 35 to 40 inches.