South Dakota Winter Weather Preparedness Day is Wednesday. The National Weather Service and Pennington County Emergency Management are reminding us to be ready when winter weather hits. Black Hills FOX Meteorologist Jon Wilson spoke with both and has more on how to be prepared.
In not all that long, this will be the scene around the Black Hills. Whether you love it or hate it, you need to be ready for it, both in your home and also on the road.
Pennington County Emergency Management Deputy Director Alexa White says, "All year round, everyone should have a basic home emergency kit, and we say being prepared is simple. We start with the ten basic items, and those include: water, food, flashlight, a battery powered radio, you want to have some tools, you want to have a first aid kit, hygiene basics, copies of your important documents, maybe a change of clothes for everyone in your family, and then maybe some cash."
Meteorologist Jon Wilson says, "What about how to know what to expect? The National Weather Service has the power to issue several winter weather alerts. They fall into two distinct categories, a watch and a warning, and knowing the difference is important.
Susan Sanders from the Rapid City National Weather Service says, "We'll issue Winter Storm Watches when there's a potential for a severe winter storm. That's done a day or two before a storm is expected to hit, and that gives people time to get ready. The warnings, and we issue Winter Storm Warnings and Blizzard Warnings are when the storm's imminent. We've got a lot more confidence that it's going to happen, and so at that time, people need to be ready."
White says, "Sometimes, you might find yourself in, "Oh, I think this is not going to be that bad. I'm going to be able to get home, it's just a little snowstorm." Then it turns into something that's not so little."
In the event that you are stranded in a vehicle, there are several things that should be done well before you're ever in that situation. Always keep half a tank of gas in your vehicle and if you have a cell phone, keep make sure it is adequately charged. What if you can't get help?
Sanders says, "You really need to stay with the vehicle, and don't try to walk to a highway or walk home because if you're in blizzard conditions, whiteout conditions that you can't see any place, it's easy to get off the road and not know where you're going. Three people died in western South Dakota last winter because they left their vehicles."
Outside of the obvious jacket, gloves, and hat, there is a list of things that will help you out if you have to stay in a vehicle.
White says, "Bars, beef jerky, things like that are great, just protein packed foods. Even peanut butter, if you like peanut butter. Different things that you can eat right out of the jar like that to sustain you if you were stuck in your vehicle. And then you also want to have things to help you maybe get out of snow, like a shovel, maybe some kitty litter, some kind of traction that you can use to help you get unstuck."