Thursday is Winter Weather Awareness Day.

The National Weather Service asks you to get prepared for winter weather on Winter Weather Awareness Day Thursday.

Before the weather turns wicked, Iowans will be getting a refresher course about what may lie ahead, as  Thursday is Winter Weather Awareness Day. Meteorologist Roger Vachalek, at the National Weather Service, says it’s a good idea to get familiar with the terminology, put fresh batteries in the weather radio and prepare survival kits for your home and car.

“We see a lot of different types of weather from heavy snow to strong winds and cold temperatures and freezing rain,” Vachalek says. “A lot of these can have severe impacts on the region as well as produce life-threatening conditions. This is a great time to touch base with some winter weather terms and procedures for this year.”

While the National Weather Service team makes it a routine to forecast the weather over the coming few days, it becomes much more difficult to predict what the weather will be like several weeks — or months — in advance. “The current outlook for the winter months calls for equal chances of either above-normal or below-normal temperatures so we’re not out of the woods yet,” Vachalek says. “We will have some periods of cold weather but right now we’re on the edge of that change. As far as precipitation goes, we’re still on an equal chance of either above or below normal.”

He urges Iowans to familiarize themselves with weather terms like outlooks, watches and warnings. “We have a hazardous weather outlook that talks about weather up to seven days, if we see there’s a large storm or something of severe impact for our area, we’ll have that highlighted there first,” Vachalek says. “We’ll have watches that are issued, hopefully, a few days ahead of time, and then we’ll issue warnings, so there’s time to ramp up for that and prepare.”

Iowans need to stay even more aware and tuned in during the winter months, he says, so they’re not caught off guard in a dangerous situation. Learn more at the National Weather Service website.

(3 cuts, Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)