Many of us may have marveled at the “freak” snow storm that his the northeastern part of the country this past weekend, and we might have been complacent, had we forgotten that it wasn’t all that many years ago that Great Bend had to cancel trick-or-treating due to our own Halloween blizzard.
As the Associated Press reported about this weekend’s storm:
“A freak October nor’easter knocked out power to more than 3 million homes and businesses across the Northeast on Sunday in large part because leaves still on the trees caught more snow, overloading branches that snapped and wreaked havoc. Close to two feet of snow fell in some areas over the weekend, and it was particularly wet and heavy, making the storm even more damaging.
“The storm smashed record snowfall totals for October and worsened as it moved north. Communities in western Massachusetts were among the hardest hit. Snowfall totals topped 27 inches in Plainfield, and nearby Windsor had gotten 26 inches by early Sunday.
“It was blamed for at least 11 deaths, and states of emergency were declared in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and parts of New York.”
“Freak” is a strong word for a storm, especially out here on the Great Plains, where we have seen conditions go from balmy to dangerously cold in the matter of an afternoon, where we have personally experienced days where you could be in your shirtsleeves at 11 a.m. and need a parka at 9 .m.
Some cold weather storm issues to remember include:
•Wind — Some winter storms have extremely strong winds that can create blizzard conditions with blinding, wind driven snow, drifting, and dangerous wind chills. These intense winds can bring down trees and poles, and can also cause damage to homes and other buildings.
• Snow — Heavy snow accumulations can immobilize a region and paralyze a city, strand motorists, stop the flow of supplies, and disrupt emergency services. Buildings may collapse, and trees and power lines can be destroyed from heavy snow. In rural regions, homes and farms may be isolated for days, and livestock could be lost.
• Ice — Heavy ice accumulations can bring down objects like trees, utility poles and lines, and communication towers. Power can be disrupted or lost for days while utility companies repair the damage. Even a small amount of ice can cause hazardous conditions for motorists and pedestrians.
•Cold — Extremely cold temperatures can accompany winter storms and be left in their wake. For some people, the winter danger is intensified. Infants and the elderly are most susceptible to prolonged exposure to the cold, which can cause potentially life-threatening conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite.
The most important thing to remember about winter storm safety in this part of the world is to be prepared.
Pay attention to the weather.
Don’t take chances.
It never hurts to have some canned goods stocked away for emergencies, to get used to checking conditions and weather outlooks before travel, and to be ready to put off getting out, rather than getting stuck somewhere.
The chances are that it will be some time before we have to worry about it.
But then they weren’t planning on a Halloween blizzard back east, either.
— Chuck Smith