The first Arctic Blast to hit the majority of the U.S. in 2010 has reached all the way to South Florida yesterday. Winds blowing up to 45 MPH or more here in Kansas gives only a slight clue of wind chills around the country. The snowfall that only measured four (4) inches last night when the snow stopped falling looks a good deal worse in the light of day with blizzard winds hitting constantly. I took a picture of a car in the parking lot two hours ago that was covered halfway up the door in snow. That same car two hours later is buried up to the door handle…and the snow, all four (4) inches of it, had stopped falling yesterday afternoon.
Hypothermia due to the severe weather has been the cause of death for several people in Nebraska, Illinois, Tennessee and elsewhere. Multi-car pileups have been reported in Kansas City as the weather all across America has been affected by this Arctic blast., snow and ice along with devastating winds have made driving more dangerous than normal. Flights have been canceled all over, including Florida, because of the frigid weather leaving the planes iced over. All manner of travel has been shut down.
The elderly, handicapped and homeless are in dire need of our attention. Without the rest of us checking on our fellow citizens, we will end up with many more weather related deaths to contend with. Please look out for those less fortunate than yourselves.
Florida may not have snow falling but they are having Iguana showers. The temperature in Florida has dropped below freezing which means the Iguanas populating the trees are going into a type of “hibernation”. These cold blooded reptiles “shut down” when the temperature drops below 40 degrees F. causing their heart beat to slow. They have been falling out of trees en masse since the cold snap hit Florida and animal control agencies have been trying to help the ones they can find. The cold will not hurt the Iguanas unless it is prolonged for three days or more according to ABC World news. When the weather warms up, the reptiles should be back to normal. I have to admit, it was a bit comical to see the clips of Iguanas falling from the tree branches. The branches were not very high (from what I saw) so the reptiles were not hurt. At least there is a small bit of humor within all the bad news.
I saw the video clips of Floridians scrambling to save crops threatened by the weather. Prices will rise because of the losses in the Florida crops so we should all hope the losses are minimal.
When you consider that North Dakota’s wind chill was expected to be approximately -52 degrees and that wind chill, although not as bad, was spreading throughout the Midwest all the way to Texas and all the way to the Eastern Seaboard we have to wonder why the weather advisories are not being heeded.
The forecast tonight in Topeka, KS., is calling for a low of -6 degrees with a wind chill of between -15 to -30 degrees and Saturday morning, Topeka will wake up to a low temp of -15…without the estimated wind chill. That is frightening enough but even worse temperatures and wind chills are happening North of Kansas.
I can not remember ever being in such a dire weather event, even so, I would not even think to get in a vehicle without emergency supplies in my car or snow chains on my tires. We all need to take precautions to ensure our own safety when getting out in dangerous weather conditions. Here are my suggestions:
If you have to get out in this weather make sure that you are dressed appropriately. Layered clothing (3 to 4 layers) is a much better idea than one layer and a coat, no matter how warm your coat is. A good pair of gloves could make the difference between keeping your fingers or losing them to frostbite. An extra pair of warm shoes in the car would ensure that you can keep your feet warm if you should have to get out of the vehicle and your shoes get wet. Two pair of socks on your feet and at least two more pair in the car just in case is always a good idea.
A good blanket or two is a necessity to have in your car. In the unfortunate event of getting stranded in your vehicle in dangerously cold weather, a blanket or two could help to save your life by keeping you from freezing to death.
It is never a good idea to attempt severe cold weather in your car without having water and some kind of food in the car, again, in the unfortunate event that you end up stranded. The families who got stranded in Oregon last month were in a dire situation because they did not use common sense and added to that had no provisions in the vehicle when they got stuck in the snow. You should always have water and some type of food with you when traveling in severe winter weather, having supplies in the vehicle could make the difference between life and death…LITERALLY.
A GPS is a fun toy and can be a useful tool but a GPS does not have the ability to warn you of the weather. Make sure that you carry at least one map of your local area, or the area you are traveling, in the car with you. A good, old fashioned map can help you find your way out of a bad situation before you get in one.
If you must travel, make sure you charge the battery on your cell phone before you leave home. If possible, bring an extra, charged, battery with you. It is a good idea to carry a car charger as well, just to be on the safe side.
The endgame to all this is to be safe. If you normally would not think of all this for yourself, please think of your family, friends and other loved ones. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to stay safe.
There is not any “God” that will keep us safe if we do not do our part to keep ourselves safe.