Winter storms vary by region and no two storms are exactly alike. Depending upon the region lived in winter storms can wreck havoc in a very short amount of time on an otherwise calm and tranquil city or rural area. This havoc can be devastating to those unprepared.
If a city rarely has a winter storm a few inches of snow can be cause for major concern. Paralyzing travelers and locals alike these storms happen rarely and these communities aren't well prepared for such situations. Homes and businesses in these types of areas aren't built for long term winter weather. Often cities with rare snowfall are caught off guard and only have one or two snow plows available causing snarled traffic and treacherous road conditions. If you live in one of these cities, you'd be well advised to remain at home under severe conditions.
Drivers aren't used to driving in such conditions and panic quickly sets in as people try to cope with the situation. If you don't know how to drive in the snow, By contrast, the Great Lakes region has many such storms and preparedness seems to be a way of life.
One of the most common dangers of winter storms can be driving. Heavy snows reduce visibility. Additionally, winds create swirling snow and reduce visibility even more. It's very easy to see why cars slide into one another and damage occurs. It's important to slow down and use extreme caution when driving in winter weather.
Wind chill factors make it feel even colder out and hypothermia and frostbite can easily set in if not properly bundled up when out in the elements. Dress in layers to prevent overheating and remove layers as needed. Always cover the mouth and nose area to protect your lungs and nasal passages from the bitter cold.
Heavy snow fall on car ports, buildings, homes and other structures can cause roofs to collapse. The danger to both occupants and vehicles can be quite severe in such situations.
High winds and heavy snows can cause power outages, downed power lines, downed trees and more. Tree's and power lines can fall into homes, vehicles and onto people causing injury or even death.
In an effort to prevent danger many areas have winter storm watches and warnings. Winter storm watches and winter storm warnings are generally issued 12 to 36 hours prior to a storm.
Winter storm watches are just that. The storm is not yet occurring but it generally anticipated. This is the time to prepare homes and vehicles for optimum safety. Stock up on groceries and supplies and prepare to wait the storm out when it hits. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 3 days worth of supplies available for each person. This should also include water in case water pipes burst or freeze.
During a winter storm warning the storm is actually taking place and it is advisable to stay inside and avoid travel whenever possible. When upgraded to a blizzard expect winds of at least 35 mph.