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Yes, Wisconsinites can handle winter, but here are still some good reminders to be prepared


It happens every year.

Summer fades into fall and before you know it winter is here.

While any good Wisconsinite knows to keep the snow brush handy, stock up on some salt, and keep an emergency kit in your car, sometimes a gentle reminder is needed.

“It’s a good time to refresh our memories and get our houses and our cars and the people in our families prepared for the cold weather season and also wintry weather precipitation,” said Kira Jesse. “After the summer we kind of sometimes forget like how to drive on the roads, they can be in slippery situations. It’s just a good reminder as we head into that season.”

Jesse is a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Green Bay, which is promoting Winter Weather Awareness Week this week.

In addition to making sure your car, home, and family is prepared for the worst winter can throw us, she said it’s also important to brush up on weather terminology.

The most common terms you’ll hear are ‘Winter Weather Advisory’,’ ‘Winter Storm Watch,’ and ‘Winter Storm Warning.’

The watches usually come out two to three days before a storm is expected.

“We’re watching the situation. We’re not entirely sure what’s going to happened yet because it’s still far out, but there’s signs there could be significant wintry precipitation, either snow or perhaps ice accumulations in that,” said Jesse.

As the storm draws closer, the NWS will either not issue an alert because it’s turns out to not be that big of deal, or it could issue an advisory or warning.

An advisory would mean, yes, we’re going to get some winter weather, but it shouldn’t be too impactful.

A warning is for big winter storm events that would bring more than six inches of snow or sleet and ice.

“This means take action. It’s occurring now or within the next day or so. Confidence is high that this winter storm will produce considerable travel problems. You’re really going to want to avoid driving on the roads,” said Jesse.

Jesse says weather.gov and getting a NOAA radio are some of the best ways to stay up to date on potentially severe weather.

But it’s not just the weather events that get special alerts you need to be mindful of.

Jesse said things like freezing rain, dense fog, and even things as simple as sun glare are all things that can create dangerous driving conditions in the winter.

“Just other things to keep in mind while driving out through the winter. There really isn’t ever just the perfect driving day. There could be those sneaky winter hazards. Be sure you are aware those all season long,” she said.

Between 2016-20, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Wisconsin says the state averaged about 41 fatalities and 3,950 injuries each year due to winter driving conditions.

DOT encourages people to keep an emergency kit with the following in the backseat of your car:

• Blankets or sleeping bags

• Extra hats, socks and mittens

• Flashlight with extra batteries

• First-aid kit

• Shovel, booster cables and windshield scraper

• Water and high-calorie non-perishable food (raisins, candy bars, energy/protein bars)

• Sand or cat litter to use for traction

• Cell phone charger

Jesse also encourages people to look at the weather reports beyond your own city or town when it comes to snowstorms.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.