Winter is six weeks away but wintery weather may be here sooner

MASON CITY — Iowa’s past few winters haven’t been terribly harsh and some of us might be able to use refreshers on our driving and survival skills before the snowdrifts and ice arrive.

Today is Winter Weather Awareness Day in Iowa and meteorologist Rod Donavon, at the National Weather Service, says a few reminders for motorists wouldn’t hurt.

“Brush up on your winter driving skills and have your survival kit in place,” Donavon says. “Winter weather travel is the most dangerous portion of the year. If you get stuck, are you prepared for that? Slow down, really take your time driving.”

Have that survival kit in your trunk filled with things like: blankets, warm clothes, water, snacks like energy bars, a flashlight with extra batteries, a snow shovel, a tow rope, jumper cables, flares, a knife and a first aid kit.

If you log on to weather.gov or follow the National Weather Service on Facebook, you will notice some changes in how warnings, watches and advisories are issued.

“They are changing a bit, we are consolidating some things,” Donavon says. “It may be more winter weather advisories instead of freezing rain or blowing snow advisories. It’ll all be combined into one product to give us more consistency. Certainly, all of the important information will be within the headlines itself.”

Blizzard Watches will no longer be issued, for example, though Blizzard Warnings will continue as needed.

Some long-range forecasts indicate Iowa has equal chances for a whopper winter with more snow and very cold temperatures versus a lighter winter. He says the picture could change very quickly, as could our landscape.

“We’re seeing that right now with the really warm air to the south and Arctic air across southern Canada,” Donavon says. “Any little system that comes through could certainly drag something through. Overall, it only takes one to two big events to have a significant impact.”

Learn more about Winter Weather Awareness Day at https://twitter.com/NWSDesMoines

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