Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2014 Vol. 61 No. 11

Message From The Chief

Winter Weather

Chief Nim Kidd

You don’t have to go back very far to be reminded that severe winter weather does happen in Texas. In early December 2013 ice storms wreaked havoc on north Texas and brought an icy chill to vast areas of the state. Major highways including Interstates 20 and 35 were closed. Some roads were iced over for days; in some areas, traveling into the state from the north was not allowed.

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport was closed as were most schools and businesses all across north Texas. By Friday morning, December 6th, as many as 268,000 homes and business were without power.

In February 2013 an historic cold front was on its way to the Texas Panhandle. Lines began to form for groceries and supplies. With the cold front came hurricane force winds—peak gusts of 75 miles per hour—and near record snowfall. Roads getting in or out of Amarillo were shut down and snow drifts stranded motorists.  In the first 24 hours over 4,000 people were without power.  Ten inches of snow for the Panhandle was normal; all in all, 19.1 inches of snow fell on Amarillo, their third largest amount of snowfall, ever.

November 12, 2014 is Winter Weather Awareness Day in Texas.
Now, I realize you make look a little unorthodox shopping for winter supplies in your flip-flops, but now is the time to prepare. Don’t wait for the long, last-minute lines or risk not being able to find what you need to survive a winter storm event. How can you prepare?

HCOHSEM

McKinney, Texas, December 2013. Slick icy roads and no power. Photo: Mike Jones

Take inventory of your home emergency kit and add the following supplies:

  • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways
  • Sand to improve traction
  • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.

If you don’t have an emergency supply kit, a checklist to build one is available at:  Texas Prepares Supply Kit. How long could you and your family survive at home if you were unable to get to a store? Keep a disaster supply kit in all your vehicles, too.

Be familiar with winter weather terminology. Do you know the difference between freezing rain and sleet, between a winter weather advisory and a winter storm warning?

We all know winter weather is coming, and the potential for severe winter weather is possible anywhere in Texas. Don’t be caught off guard; prepare now.

Speaking of cold
Got your flu shot yet? Influenza can be a dangerous, deadly disease. With few exceptions, the CDC recommends a flu shot for everyone over six months of age. And they recommend you get it early. Today there really are no excuses for not getting a flu shot; pharmacies and clinics all over the state welcome walk-ins for shots at little or no cost or wait. While you’re on your way to your favorite grocery store or home improvement center to get supplies for your emergency kit, pop in and get your shot!

Centers for Disease Control - Flu
TexasFlu.org


Chief W. Nim Kidd, CEM®

Follow me @chiefkidd on Twitter, and you can also follow
Texas Division of Emergency Management on Twitter @TDEM

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