It’s time to start preparing for winter weather

JOHNSTON — Much of Iowa has seen warmer-than-normal temperatures in recent days, but autumn will soon transition to winter and the National Weather Service is encouraging Iowans to prepare now for the inevitable.

Meteorologist Chad Hahn says this Thursday is Winter Weather Awareness Day, which is devoted to getting our homes and vehicles ready for the cold season ahead.

“Throwing the car kit, the safety kit, into your car,” Hahn says. “At this point, it’s a good time to start thinking about that, because it’s just a matter of time before we’ll be dealing with the white stuff across the state.” The Iowa D-O-T says 75-percent of winter crashes occur with two inches of snow or less, so he says even light snowfalls need to be taken very seriously. Hahn says Iowans should be familiar with the differences between a watch and a warning.

“A watch is a far-reaching product that we see some indication that we’re going to have some sort of impacting winter system move through,” Hahn says. “It doesn’t mean that we have a lot of details yet, as when we upgrade it to a warning as it approaches, confidence is growing in the type of dangers that may be associated with the particular weather system.”

Iowans often need to change their plans based on the forecast, especially if they hear the words “winter storm warning.” “That could range from just the run-of-the-mill winter event, where we get six to 10 inches of snow, but the wind isn’t that strong,” Hahn says, “to when we’re getting 40-50 mile per hour winds and we’re dealing with a ground blizzard across the state, and everything in between.”

The weather service will be releasing a variety of winter preparation tips on its social media pages, including at the website: We still have about six weeks of fall ahead, as winter arrives on December 21st.