Here in Boulder, Colorado, winter storms are one of the most common types of natural disasters that we encounter. Some winters are relatively mild, while others can bring snowstorms that can damage property and disrupt everyday life. Both snowstorms and ice storms can be quite dangerous. Just as people in the coastal South stay prepared for occasional hurricanes, Colorado residents need to remain prepared for the possibility of a winter snow storm that brings blinding, wind-driven snow and dangerously low temperatures.
Here’s what you need to know to prepare yourself for the possibility of winter storms, and how to handle snow removal afterward.
Types of Winter Snow Storm Warnings in Colorado
When a winter storm is on its way, there will be widespread public weather alerts about it. Especially if you’re new to Colorado, it’s helpful to know the difference between these various weather alerts.
- Winter Storm Outlook: Winter storm conditions are likely within the next two to five days.
- Winter Weather Advisory: Winter weather is expected to create serious inconveniences and interfere with traffic and travel. Conditions may be hazardous, though not life threatening.
- Winter Storm Watch. A winter snow storm is possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. You should stay informed about weather conditions as they unfold, and make sure you’re prepared to weather the storm.
- Winter Storm Warning. Severe, potentially life threatening winter storm conditions have begun, or will commence within 24 hours. If you’re in a winter storm warning area, take precautions immediately.
How to Get Ready for a Winter Storm
- Winterize your vehicle. You’ll need to check your battery, which runs less efficiently in winter. Make sure your windshield wipers are working, too. You may also need snow tires, and if your vehicle has four wheel drive, make sure it’s working correctly. It’s also a good idea to stock your car with emergency supplies, just in case you get stranded somewhere.
- Make sure your home is insulated. Install storm windows, or cover your windows with plastic from the inside. This helps keep out cold air, which is important in case the power goes out.
- Make sure your heater is working correctly. Every year, you should have an HVAC company come out to perform an annual inspection and routine maintenance for your furnace or boiler.
- If you’re leaving town, leave the heat on at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or above. This prevents plumbing pipes from freezing and bursting.
- Put together a winter storm supply kit. If you’re stuck indoors during a winter snow storm and the power goes out, you’ll need supplies to stay safe.
Creating a Winter Storm Supply Kit
If a winter storm hits, you’ll need to be prepared with the right supplies to make it through. Here’s what you should have on hand, just in case.
- Water. The Red Cross recommends a three day supply of water, at least one gallon per person per day.
- Food. Keep a three-day supply of nonperishable food that’s easy to prepare. Canned goods, boxed cereal and crackers, and other non-refrigerated foods work well for this.
- Flashlight. If the power goes out, you’ll want to have at least one flashlight on hand. The Red Cross sells them inexpensively online.
- A battery-powered or hand crank radio. Hand crank radios don’t require batteries or electrical outlets for power. However, as long as you have a supply of batteries, a battery powered radio can work just as well.
- Extra batteries. You’ll need batteries for flashlights, radios, and other necessities.
- A first aid kit. If someone gets injured during a winter storm, you’ll want to be able to treat their injury.
- Medications and medical items. You should have at least a seven day supply of any medications you need, along with other things like insulin needles for diabetics.
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items. You don’t want to run out of toilet paper while you’re snowed in.
- Copies of personal documents. It’s recommended that you have copies of your social security card, birth certificate, and other documents.
- Baby or pet supplies. If you have a young child or pets, you’ll need supplies for them as well.
Planning for Snow Removal After a Winter Snow Storm
After a winter snow storm has come and gone, it will leave quite a bit of snow on your property. You’ll need to handle snow removal soon afterward, especially for your roof. At General Services Corp, we provide professional snow removal for homeowners and businesses throughout the Boulder area. To find out more, call us any time.