While the weather outside isn’t exactly frightful yet, some Iowans may need a reminder that wind chills will plummet and snow will fly one day very soon. Today is Winter Weather Awareness Day, according to Jeff Johnson, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Johnson says, “Winter Weather Day is a day to think about the hazards we face here in the state from winter weather, particularly, we’ll look at the winter storms, blizzards, extreme cold episodes and ice storms and for each of those, how to deal with each threat.” The National Weather Service is offering that information on its website, weather-dot-gov.

“We want people to know how to get a watch, warning or advisory,” Johnson says. “Safety things everyone should do, like making sure your winter weather emergency kit is ready in your car. Exactly what to put in that is on our website.” Some items should include: blankets, a flashlight, extra batteries, a radio, a shovel and non-perishable food.

After this year’s prolonged drought, everyone’s wondering about the winter ahead. Johnson says predictions are still inconclusive. “Last year, we had a fairly tranquil winter that was punctuated by an extremely warm March, holy cow, with temperatures in the 80s, it was a record month,” Johnson says.

“Prior to that, we had a few snow episodes and some ice but nothing significant.” As for naming this season’s winter storms like what’s done with hurricanes, Johnson says that’s a gimmick being offered by the Weather Channel, not the National Weather Service.

By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City