Hazards: Winter Storm, Snow & Cold

Winter Storm icon

Winter weather can cause a power outage, loss of heat and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for many days.

The greatest threat often comes from related causes, such as traffic accidents on icy roads and hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.


Snowflake iconGet the latest updates about closings/delays on our blog. Learn how the county executive makes snow decisions.

Snowflake iconThe Snow Plow & Road Conditions page covers plowing status, responsibility and road conditions.

Snowflake iconThe Snow Shovel & Removal page covers snow shoveling safety, sidewalk rules and snow clearing tips.

Snowflake iconThe Winter Safety page covers heating safety and assitance, home safety and more.

Snowflake iconThe National Weather Service's Winter Weather page for our area provides the latest forecasts.

What to Do

Stay indoors during the storm:

  • If you must go outside, be careful on walkways and roads, which can be dangerous despite appearances.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non­frozen drinking water.
  • Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, coat, mittens/gloves, hat and shoes/boots

 Watch for signs of frostbite:

  • These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose.
  • If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.

Watch for signs of hypothermia: 

  • These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
  • If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.

Drive only if necessary. If you must drive:

  • Travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.

If your vehicle stops working, pull off the road. Once safely away from traffic:

  • Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.
  • Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you.
    • Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. A building may seem close, but be too far to walk to in deep snow.
  • Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm.
    • When the engine is running, open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. This will protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Winter Storm Terms

Know these terms to help identify a winter storm hazard:

  • Winter Weather Advisory - winter weather conditions are expected and may be hazardous.
  • Winter Storm Watch - a winter storm is possible in the next 36 to 48 hours.
  • Winter Storm Warning - a winter storm is expected within 24 hours. 
  • Frost/Freeze Warning means below freezing temperatures are expected.
  • Blizzard Warning - sustained winds or regular gusts to 35 miles per hour or more and considerable amounts of snowfall or snow drifts with near zero visibility and life-threatening wind chill.

Related Information

S stay off the roads N not O out in the W weather

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