Being Prepared For A Winter Storm

Snow isn’t exactly a common occurrence here in Alabama, but the beginning of this week was an exception. When snow began to fall in the early afternoon on Tuesday, January 28th, roadways quickly became gridlocked, accidents were abound, motorists abandoned their cars and students were stranded overnight in schools. All told, the winter weather left a few inches of snow on the ground, but it was still a big problem for Alabama residents who aren’t used to this type of weather.

Since residents of Birmingham metro communities, such as Ross Bridge, aren’t accustomed to the snow, it may be a good idea to review some helpful tips for being prepared for a snowstorm. As Tuesday’s events have shown, even if the forecast is calling for a “dusting” of snow, weather can quickly turn more severe than expected.

Here are some tips to keep in mind to prepare for a snowstorm:

Be familiar with winter storm vocabulary.

According to the American Red Cross, the four terms used to describe winter storms are: Winter Storm Outlook, Winter Weather Advisory, Winter Storm Watch, Winter Storm Warning.

Winter Storm Outlook means that there’s a possibility for winter storm conditions in the following two to five days.

Winter Weather Advisory means that conditions from winter weather could be hazardous and are expected to cause significant inconvenience.

Winter Storm Watch means that winter storm conditions are possible within the following 36 to 48 hours, and people in the area receiving the watch should review winter storm plans and remain informed about the conditions.

Winter Storm Warning (this is the most severe) means that life threatening and severe weather conditions are occurring, or will be occurring within the following 24 hours. Those in the warning area should immediately take precautions when the warning is issued.

Create a snowstorm kit.

Don’t wait until the last minute to get supplies. Create a “snowstorm kit” in advance so you can have it on hand if and when the snow does come. Even in areas such as Birmingham, where heavy snow isn’t commonplace, it’s always better to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. The following items are helpful to have in a snowstorm kit: at least a three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day); at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food; shovel; flashlight and extra batteries; extra blankets; battery or hand-crank operated radio; first-aid kit; medications; personal hygiene items; old cell phone with charger, if you have it; extra cash; sand or rock salt for clearing walkways; multi-purpose tool; and baby and pet supplies if applicable.

Keep yourself updated.

It’s important to have current information about weather conditions in case they worsen. Increasingly, social media is a great way to stay updated by following local news stations and online news sources. Of course, television and radios are more traditional, but still effective, methods of staying updated.

Heed driving announcements.

Staying off the roads when strongly urged to do so by officials is important to keep both you and fellow motorists safe – abandoned cars on the side of the road Tuesday in Alabama were keeping emergency personnel from getting to others in need. And remember that the roads aren’t necessarily safe as soon as the snow stops. In the case of Tuesday’s snowstorm, roads were still expected to be icy and dangerous until midday Wednesday – especially roads on an incline.

When the roads are safe to travel on, make sure to defrost the windshield of your car and scrape off ice with any non-metal utensils. You can also create a homemade de-icing solution – three parts lukewarm water to one part vinegar – and spray on windshield. Don’t use hot water on your windshield, as the temperature change could cause the glass to crack. If there are advisories for winter weather and you have adequate time, it’s a good idea to fill up your tank – it’ll help keep the fuel line from freezing.

Have a family communication plan.

It’s a good idea to have an established plan set in place for communicating with family and loved ones in the case of any emergency, not just a winter storm. For example, if cell phone calls aren’t going through and family members are separated, your communication plan could state that family members will try to get in touch with each other hour on the hour, for example, or at a certain time.

Have some fun!

Being stuck indoors can understandably drive the most patient of us a little crazy, but look at it as an opportunity to relax and have fun. Play cards or board games with your family, read that book you’ve been meaning to but haven’t had time, or catch up on your favorite TV shows. If you have younger kids, have a stash of coloring books or other crafts for when you’re stuck inside.

Though the Birmingham metro area usually doesn’t see too much snow in the winter months, it never hurts to be prepared to help you and your family feel more secure. If winter weather does force you to be inside, then at least Ross Bridge residents have the comfort of knowing they’ll be spending time in their beautiful new construction homes. Weather winter storms can certainly be an inconvenience, but living in a home in our Ross Bridge community can make it enjoyable!

SOURCE:, American Red Cross,, ABC News