Officially, the first day of winter is Saturday, December 21. Winter Weather Awareness Day for Missouri is November 20. However, it may be a good idea to begin preparing for that which is to come. The question pending may be “How do we prepare, when we are not sure what the weather is going to be like?”
Some people may rely on whether or not the groundhog “Punxsutawney Phil” sees his shadow. While others may rely on the shape of the kernel inside a persimmon seed. Either way, accurately predicting of the weather is often a difficult task. Even the professional meteorologists get it wrong at times.
For the record, Phil did not see his shadow this year. Therefore, this is supposed to mean that an early spring is on the way.
According to folklore, if the kernel inside of a persimmon seed is spoon-shaped, expect lots of heavy, wet snow. If it is fork-shaped, one can expect powdery, light snow and a mild winter. Lastly, if the kernel is knife-shaped, expect icy, cold cutting winds.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac indicates that winter temperatures will be colder than normal, especially in the north, with the coldest periods in mid and late December, early January, mid-January, and early March. Precipitation will be slightly below normal in the north and above in the south, while snowfall will be below normal in the central portion of the region, but above normal in the north and south. The snowiest periods will be in early November, late December, mid-January, early to mid-February, and late February. Find out more at www.almanac.com/weather/longrange/MO.
In accordance with Winter Weather Awareness Day, the Missouri Department of Public Safety is encouraging people to prepare for winter storms. The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) recommends that all households create a family emergency plan and an emergency kit with bottled water and food that can be prepared without cooking in case of a power outage. Kits should include bottled water, canned and dry foods, battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, manual can opener and a first-aid kit.
Make sure all heat sources, such as fireplaces, wood stoves and oil heaters function properly. If you have a generator, make sure you have fuel and that your generator functions properly. Only operate generators outdoors.
Create a winter car kit. This includes a blanket, spare radio with batteries, snacks or energy-type food, jumper cables, flares, shovel and sand or shingles to give tires traction.
Exercise caution when shoveling snow or pushing a car out of snow banks and avoid unnecessary travel when driving conditions are poor.
Make sure cell phones are charged before driving in foul winter weather and ensure that important emergency numbers, such as *55 for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, are saved for fast dialing in case of emergencies on state highways.
Missouri’s winter weather can be difficult to predict and can quickly become severe. So begin preparing now, before winter sets in.
The City of Laddonia has sharpened blades on all the plows, winterized the trucks and maintainer, and ordered 6,000 pounds of salt.
City of Vandalia Street Supervisor David Hamby urged people to not go out when the weather gets bad, unless you absolutely have to for some reason.
Hamby also indicated that the street department will most often wait until a snow/ice storm slows down or subsides, before plows will get busy clearing the roads.
“We do try to pretreat the roads if we know a storm is coming, but it is often a gamble. But we try our best to be ready when the snow comes,” Hamby said.
Currently, the City of Vandalia uses a salt/beet juice mixture on the roads in the winter months.
The use beet juice with salt was patented in 2005 by an Illinois Beet Farmer. Dave Schiavoni of East End Organics discovered that beet juice doesn’t freeze when winter temperatures drop below freezing. The salt/beet juice mixture is eco-friendly, reduces corrosion, and lessens the amount of salt needed for application.
Audrain County has implemented a Citizen Alert Emergency Notification System that will provide citizens with time-sensitive information such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons, and evacuation of buildings or neighborhoods.
Visit www.audraincounty.org to sign up. The icon is on the front page, click it and it will take you to the registration page. You can how you want to receive the messages. You can receive messages through your home phone, cell phone, or business phone. Alerts are also available through e-mail, text messages, and hearing impaired receiving devices.
For more information, contact the Audrain Emergency Management Citizen Alert at 573-473-5892.
The Vandalia Leader provides text alerts, twitter updates, website updates, and up-to-date information on Facebook. To sign up for the text alerts, visit vandalialeader.com and click the link. Be sure to visit the Vandalia Leader Facebook page and “Like” us.