The Old Farmer’s Almanac (founded in 1792) predicts that Illinois will have above average snowfall this winter; Indiana, not so much. However, if you read The Farmer’s Almanac (founded 1818) or check with the Weather Channel and NOAA, you will get a different forecast.
They are predicting a harsh winter for our part of the country as well as the rest of the Great Lakes, with lots of snow and frigid temperatures. Why? Meteorologists are pointing to La Nina’s return as a primary reason we can expect low temperatures and above-average precipitation.
Which boils down to this: it’s the first week of December and it’s time for Hoosiers and everyone in Illinois to get prepared for the dangers that winter weather brings to us.
Accident Dangers with Winter Weather for Indiana and Illinois
Here in our part of the country, we can experience some of the harshest weather of any part of the continental United States. Blizzards and severe winter storms here can be so fierce that they are now given storm names just as hurricanes are named that endanger the Gulf Coast and southern states.
We know our winters are extreme and that people die each year here from winter-related accidents.
Last February, for instance, Indiana and Illinois dealt with Winter Storm Petros. Blizzard winds and heavy snow not only shut down airports and stopped rail traffic; it took out electricity and power to thousands in Illinois.
Petros’ white-out conditions shut down lots of roadways and resulted in a tremendous amount of car accidents. Maybe you remember those 40+ mph winds with all the snow that caused a huge multi-car pile up on over on Indiana’s Interstate? (You can watch a video of that blizzard accident pileup online at TheScene.com).
Preparing for Winter Weather
Here in the first week of December, let’s take a moment to review our preparations for the inevitable severe winter weather that we will have in Illinois and Indiana over the upcoming months.
Before we get lost in the fun and festivity of the Holiday Season and our New Year Celebrations, it’s important to make sure we have prepared both ourselves and our loved ones against these known dangers.
1. Winter Preparation for Your Car, Truck, SUV, or Minivan
Getting your vehicle (as well as that of your teen driver, your parent, your spouse, etc.) means doing some repair and maintenance now. It also means getting an emergency kit stored in the vehicle just in case the driver is caught on a winter roadway and immobile for some length of time.
Consider doing the following for your vehicles:
- Oil change
- Battery check
- Brake check (are the anti-lock brakes fully functional?)
- Tire air pressure
- Tire tread
- Anti-freeze and window washer fluid levels
- Tire chains
- Flashlight with extra batteries (or a mechanical flashlight that doesn’t need them)
- Cell phone charger
- Ice scraper
- Jumper cables
- Road salt
- Food and water
- De-icing compound
2. Making Your Home Safe for Severe Winter Weather
Getting your house ready now for a heavy blizzard is going to be something you will be so happy that you did in the event you are snowbound this winter!
Consider doing the following for your home:
- Check your roof and make any needed roof repairs now
- Make sure you and your family members know where to turn off the main water valve in case of a burst water pipe
- Have several fire extinguishers (since home heating fires are a real hazard during winter storms)
- Check the insulation on your water pipes
- Winterize your home and any other structures on your property now (sheds, barns, etc.)
- Check your heating equipment
- Get the chimneys cleaned
- Put up storm windows
Expect to be on your own, in your dwelling, for four days and nights at a minimum as you put together your home winter weather emergency kit. Include things like:
- Any drugs and medications that all family members may need (including the pets)
- One gallon of water per person per day (or 4 gallons/person)
- Additional water for pets and for extra use (clean up, etc.)
- Battery powered radio (so you can monitor weather conditions, public announcements, etc.)
- Battery powered clock (or wind up mechanical clock with a family member designated to keep it running)
- Throw-away cutlery (forks, knives, spoons)
- Plastic or paper plates and bowls
- Can opener
- Bottle opener
- Knives for food preparation and as a tool
- Access to basic tools (if they aren’t already in the house)
- Batteries for flashlights, radio, etc.
- Cell phone
- First aid kit
- Food for humans and pets to cover four days at a minimum (canned, dried, etc.) that is ready to eat, non-perishable, etc.
- Cash / Money
- Extra socks and shoes
- Changes of clothing for all family members
- Heating fuel and heat sources (wood for fireplaces, kerosene or propane for heaters, etc.)
Online Warnings and Information
Public service information and advance warning systems are in place now in readiness for the winter storms and snowfall. There is a wealth of information regarding extreme storm readiness at FEMA.gov and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site.
Here are some local sites and apps which may be beneficial for you to have stored for future use:
1. Current Road Conditions in Indiana
The Indiana Department of Transportation has an ongoing update of current travel conditions throughout the state including a webpage dedicated to advising on travel safety county by county.
2. Current Road Conditions in Illinois
The Illinois Department of Transportation also provides an online reference for current weather conditions.
Save this page: Go here to review winter road conditions in Illinois including (1) if the road has been cleared of ice and snow or if (2) it is reported as covered in snow or ice at their Getting Around Illinois website.
3. Red Cross Online
The American Red Cross understands the perils of winter storms in the northern United States. Review their winter preparation discussion online.
Preparing now may help you avoid an accident this winter! Let’s be careful out there!