Saturday, Nov. 13

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Winter Storm Preparedness Week
in Illinois    
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[NOV. 13, 2004]  Now is the time to prepare for inclement winter weather across the state of Illinois. The week of Nov. 14-20 has been declared as Winter Storm Preparedness Week in Illinois by the National Weather Service in conjunction with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department on Aging, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal.

Winter storms are known as the "deceptive killers." Annually, winter storms and very cold temperatures combine to produce 71 fatalities across the United States, which is more than the deaths caused by tornadoes.

The National Weather Service and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency have prepared a "Winter Storm Preparedness" guide including information on these topics:

  • What to do to prepare your home and vehicle for winter weather.
  • Planning for winter travel and what to do if you get caught in the storm.
  • How to avoid the dangers of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Winter weather terms and a wind chill chart.
  • Sources of information on winter storms.

Click below to view the information provided in the guide.

National Weather Service winter weather fact sheet

The National Weather Service mission:

The National Weather Service provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. The National Weather Service is the sole U.S. official voice for issuing warnings during life-threatening weather situations.

Hazardous winter weather effects

  • On average, 44 people in the United States lose their lives each year due to winter storms. This ranks No. 4 on the list of storm-related fatalities, behind flooding, with 84; tornadoes, 58; and lightning, 53.
  • Bitterly cold weather has resulted in 27 fatalities each year on average in the United States. This is nearly twice the number of people that die from hurricanes in this country.
  • About 70 percent of the people who are killed or injured due to winter storms are in automobiles. About 25 percent of the people who are killed or injured in winter storms are caught out in the storm with no place to take shelter.
  • Many deaths and injuries are indirectly related to winter weather occurrences that are not classified as winter storms. These include:
  1. Traffic accidents on hazardous roads

  2. Heart attacks from shoveling snow or other outdoor activities

  3. Hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold

  4. Frostbite

  5. Avalanches

Central Illinois winter weather warning statistics

  • Since 1998, nearly 85 percent of all winter weather storms (heavy snow and significant icing) in central Illinois have had advance warning by the National Weather Service in Lincoln, with an average lead time of 15.4 hours.

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Interesting winter weather facts

  • In the Midwestern United States, Marquette, Mich., is the snowiest city, with an average annual snow accumulation of nearly 130 inches! In central Illinois, the northeast Woodford County town of Minonk has the highest average annual snowfall with 27.1 inches.
  • The biggest snowstorm to affect central Illinois occurred Dec. 18-20, 1973, when 14 to 22 inches of snow was measured along and just south of Interstate 72. The highest total was in the Edgar County town of Paris, which had 21.5 inches of snow.
  • In the Midwest, it usually takes about 13 inches of snow to yield 1 inch of water. This ratio can change from storm to storm. "Dry" snow that is accompanied by very cold temperatures may take as much as 25 inches of snow to yield an inch of water, while "wet" snow from weather systems that originate near the Gulf of Mexico can produce 4 inches of snow for every inch of water.
  • The coldest temperature to be recorded in the state occurred in the central Illinois town of Congerville, in Woodford County, when the mercury dipped to minus 36 degrees F on Jan. 5, 1999.
  • The coldest temperature ever recorded in the continental United States was minus 70 degrees in Rogers Pass, Mont. Alaska’s coldest reading was minus 80 degrees at Prospect Creek. The world-record coldest temperature was minus 129 degrees at the South Pole.

Economic effects of weather forecasts and warnings

  • 33 percent of the United States Gross National Product is affected by National Weather Service forecasts.
  • Economists have estimated that improved El Niño forecasts have resulted in annual savings of nearly $300 million for U.S. agriculture by altering planting decisions.
  • A 1 degree improvement in temperature forecasts could decrease the annual cost of electricity by at least $1 billion.

Visit the Internet home page of the Lincoln National Weather Service office at www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx for the latest weather and river forecasts, warnings, current conditions, radar and satellite imagery, and climate information.

[Provided by the Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist, National Weather Service office in Lincoln]

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