Now you’ve absorbed that newsflash, it’s time to think about getting ready for it.
We’ve discussed this subject before — but it’s especially important, considering what some weather sources are predicting: a hard winter.
The Farmer’s Almanac, an old-time periodical that’s been surprisingly accurate over the years, says:
“A decline in solar activity combined with ocean-atmosphere patterns in the Pacific and Atlantic will result in below-normal temperatures and above-normal snowfall during most of the winter across much of the United States.
“’This winter is shaping up to be a rough one,’ says Janice Stillman, editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. ‘Sweaters and snow shovels should be unpacked early and kept close by throughout the season. The good news is that the extra precipitation—which will fall as rain or snow depending where you are—will help with any drought issues left over from the summer.'”
The Weather Channel isn’t willing to be quite so specific. According to Chief Meteorologist Dr. Todd Crawford, “As the first shot of significant cold air spurs above-normal heating demand across much of the eastern United States, there are many questions regarding its staying power…”
Crawford adds, “While we do foresee colder-than-normal temperatures across the Midwest into the mid-Atlantic and Southeast in November and potentially into early December, there is a risk of much milder temperatures heading into the New Year, especially across the western and southern United States.”
Granted, some weathercasters are expecting the Polar Vortex not to have much impact this winter over most of the country. Or so they say. Bear in mind that forecasters in general did notpredict the heavy snowstorms that the Northeast endured last winter season. (The Farmer’s Almanac‘s projection, however, was much closer to real-life events.)
Even if we enjoy higher-than-normal temperatures in the coming months, there’s still bound to be some of this:
There are plenty of ways to prepare. (Don’t forget your yard, either. It could use some tucking-in before cold weather hits.) If you commute or use your car for long trips, it’s not a bad idea to make up a kit to keep in it. (These are good Christmas presents, too.)
Ready Wisconsin, a state-sponsored emergency management site, suggests including:
- a shovel
- windshield scraper and small broom
- flashlight with extra batteries (reverse the batteries, to keep the flashlight from accidentally turning on and draining power)
- battery powered radio
- snack food including energy bars
- raisins and mini candy bars
- matches and small candles
- extra hats, socks and mittens
- First aid kit with pocket knife
- Necessary medications
- blankets or sleeping bag
- tow chain or rope
- road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction
- booster cables
- emergency flares and reflectors
- fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention
- Cell phone adapter to plug into lighter
If you do have a tough winter in your neck of the woods, something interesting is bound to happen: certain items are suddenly going to go away. We learned this the hard way some winters back, when Colorado was hit with storm after storm just before the holidays. Although some traffic was getting through (sort of), the trucking system that normally supplied grocery stores was held back for weeks at a time. Within only a few days, fresh milk and dairy, eggs and bread largely disappeared from the shelves. Canned goods were still there — frozen items too. But fresh stuff? Gone.
And this was between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when many people enjoy making cookies, candy and cakes to celebrate. But these goodies generally require dairy and egg products. During a scouting trip to King Soopers, our daughter found a dozen eggs that obviously had been hidden for later retrieval. All the way to the checkout counter, she was asked wistfully, “Where in the world did you find those?”
That shorthanded winter taught me something — that in addition to keeping extra food on hand (plus an extra can opener!), I needed to stock dry milk, flour and dried egg (or powdered egg whites). Keep a few cans and bags of these essentials in your own pantry, and you can still enjoy your favorite goodies, even when the fresh stuff is gone. They’re surprisingly comforting when the wind’s shrieking outside. (Good for tornadoes and hurricanes, too.)
The other issue is basic: if you’ve got power outages, how are you going to keep water pipes…or your family… from freezing? If you’ve got a fireplace, extra firewood comes in handy — and can be gradually used, anyways. Consider investing in a generator or kerosene heater for such eventualities, too. And don’t forget about gas for your vehicle — if truckers aren’t getting through to deliver fresh groceries, gasoline trucks may have the same difficulty. Store a full five-gallon gas can in your garage, and you’ve got transportation, at least for a while. We keep ten gallons at all times — enough to get us back to family, in case of emergency.
Watching current forecasts isn’t a bad idea this winter. Websites like AccuWeather make it their business to track the latest storms — keeping you safe and more able to enjoy the season.