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Winter Weather Preparedness in Alaska

During Winter Weather Preparedness Week, the National Weather Service wants to bring awareness...
During Winter Weather Preparedness Week, the National Weather Service wants to bring awareness to the hazards that impact all of us - like blizzards, heavy snow, and freezing rain.(Julie Swisher/KTVF)
Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 4:23 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - It might be raining outside lately, but Winter Weather Preparedness Week as declared by the state of Alaska is in full swing, and is an opportunity for Alaskans to prepare for the winter months ahead.

Jonathan Chriest is a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fairbanks, Alaska. He spoke about the difference between Winter Storm warnings, advisories and Blizzard Warnings.

“Winter warnings, winter weather advisories and blizzard warnings are all products what we issue when we expect winter weather to cause some impact,” said Chriest

Winter Weather Advisories, Winter Storm Warnings and Blizzard Warnings are just a few of the special weather statements that the National Weather service might issue to inform the public - and although they sound similar, they vary in how they issue these alerts.

Chriest continued, “A winter weather advisory is a product that we are going to issue to the Fairbanks area when we see that there is weather that could potentially cause impacts or potentially cause travel difficulties around the Fairbanks area. That could be for freezing rain, for snow amounts, or wind or blowing snow. Winter storm warnings are more [when] we are expecting there to be more impacts, potentially dangerous travel conditions with widespread impacts due to heavier snow amounts, longer periods of blowing snow, or more freezing rain.”

Chriest says blizzard warnings can happen but most times they are a rare occurrence. “In the case of a rare blizzard warning, we are going to issue a very specific criteria to meet that - with the visibility reduced to a quarter mile or less, with winds blowing at least 35 miles an hour for three consecutive hours. Those are really rare for the Fairbanks area, but in the case of a blizzard warning those would be the conditions we would expect.”

With this being Winter Weather Preparedness Week, Chriest has a few tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this season.

He said looking out for current and future weather conditions before commuting to work or around town can be helpful, and they refer everyone to find road conditions at the Department of Transportation Alaska 511 site.

“So with Winter Weather Preparedness Week, it is a good opportunity to have a reminder to take those extra steps - to de-icing your vehicle before you get into the car, taking it slow, driving with alertness, and also assembling an emergency kit for your house that includes a battery operated NOAA weather radio in the case the power was to go out and you need to get weather information,” Chriest said

He added that warm clothes, food, water and any medications are also good items to have in case of a weather emergency.

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