Brrr! Say hello to, brace for meteorological winter

By BILL POWELL
bpowell@dcherald.com

On the heels of a balmy Monday where windows were open to catch the breeze, Dubois County will be doing well after today to have a high temperature climb out of the 30s the rest of the week.

Say hello to meteorological winter, says Joe Sullivan, a National Weather Service meteorologist at the Louisville office. And don’t expect any more highs in the 60s any time before Christmas, he adds.

Astronomical winter officially starts after the winter solstice on the 21st of this month but, Sullivan says, once the calendar page flipped to December, we were in meteorological winter — the three months of the year associated with winter weather and all that it entails.

“It’s here now,” Sullivan says. “That’s why everybody is playing Christmas music.”

The arrival of meteorological winter can coincide with early snow and cold but, on Monday, the county was treated to a 66-degree high. It didn’t approach the Jasper record for Dec. 4 of 75 degrees set in 1982, but it was warm enough for curtains to be blowing and for motorcyclists to get out into the wind.

Then overnight rain arrived — Ferdinand had 1.3 inches in its gauge — winds gusted to 35 mph and, just like that, Dubois County was cooling and in line for possible weekend snow flurries.

Sullivan says this has definitely been a good week for his office to roll out its seasonal winter weather safety campaign so the public can get reacquainted with winter weather-related terms.

To that end, a winter weather advisory means wintry weather is expected so the public should exercise caution, the NWS says. That could mean light amounts of wintry precipitation or patchy blowing snow causing slick conditions.

A NWS winter storm watch means snow, sleet or ice is possible. A winter storm warning means confidence is high that a winter storm will produce heavy snow, sleet or freezing rain and cause significant impact.

People at home during a winter storm should have enough supplies to ride out a loss of heat, power or telephone service, according to the NWS. That can include having extra prescription medicine on hand or plenty of baby items like diapers and formula.

Each year, on average, more than 6,000 people are killed and more than 480,000 are injured due to weather-related vehicle crashes, according to the NWS. Anyone who needs to drive in snow or cold conditions should take it slow. Black ice can be difficult to see.

Items for a winter driving survival kit should include an ice scraper, shovel, sand or other traction aid, tow rope or chain, booster cables, road flares or warning lights, flashlight, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, small tool kit, extra clothing, nonperishable energy foods (granola bars, dried fruit, water), a candle, small tin can and matches.

The NWS also advises travelers to ensure all vehicle fluid levels are full and their car’s lights, heater and windshield wipers are in proper condition. Gas tanks should be kept near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. And people should avoid traveling alone. Let someone know your timetable and primary and alternate routes, according to the NWS.

A winter weather safety campaign here in the Ohio Valley would not be complete without mentioning severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and lightning. The Ohio Valley frequently has periods of warm temperatures during the winter that are quickly replaced by a return to normal temperatures behind a strong cold front, which means storms and tornadoes can happen.

Sullivan says Dubois County will be lucky if it receives a dusting of snow from the clipper coming this weekend, but winter is winter and measurable snow will be coming.

“Only a few people I know want a green Christmas,” Sullivan says. “Everybody wants a white Christmas. So the closer we are (to Christmas), the more open people are to getting snowfall.”

When it comes to an over-under wager on whether we’ll get a white Christmas, bet the under, Sullivan advises. Way under.

“I’d say probably no snow,” Sullivan predicted Tuesday. Although, he added, “theoretically, I know there’s always a chance...”




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