Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Episode 292 (11-30-15): “Winter is Coming” by The Steel Wheels Gives the Cue for Winter Preparedness and Safety in 2015-16

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:15)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 11-23-15.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of November 30, 2015.

MUSIC  - ~12 sec

This week, music by the Harrisonburg, Va.-based band, The Steel Wheels, opens our annual episode on winter preparedness.  Have a listen for about 35 more seconds.

MUSIC - ~37 sec

You’ve been listening to part of “Winter is Coming,” from The Steel Wheels’ 2015 album, “We’ve Got a Fire.” 

In 2015, winter comes to Virginia—astronomically—on December 21, ready or not.  So Virginia’s official Winter Preparedness Week runs this year from November 29 to December 5.  Here are some tips from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management for staying safe from winter’s hazardous roads, power outages, and fire hazards.

*Try to get to travel destinations before the weather gets bad.  You can get road conditions from the Virginia 511 telephone system, Web site, or smartphone app.

*Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, especially one with a NOAA Weather Radio band.

*Get fireplaces, wood stoves, and chimneys inspected and cleaned.

*Install a smoke detector in every bedroom and on every floor level, and check the batteries regularly.

*If you use space heaters, plug them into wall outlets, not into extension cords; keep heaters at least three feet from other objects; and don’t leave heaters unattended.

*Generators, camp stoves, and charcoal-burning devices should be used outdoors only.

*Use flashlights, not candles, during power outages.

*And make a family emergency plan that includes a meeting place if your family can’t return home; an out-of-town emergency contact; and at least a three-day emergency supply of food, water, and medications.

More information on preparing for severe winter weather and other emergencies is available online at

Thanks to The Steel Wheels for permission to use this week’s music, and as we close with a bit more of “Winter is Coming,” here’s hoping that you keep warm and safe during whatever the coming winter brings.

MUSIC – ~15 sec

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Winter is Coming,” from the 2015 album “We’ve Got a Fire,” is copyright by The Steel Wheels, used with permission.  More information about The Steel Wheels is available online at

The beginning and near-end of winter 2014-15: Big Walker Creek on State Route 663 in Giles County, Virginia, on December 21, 2014 (upper photo); and sparrows around a household bird feeder in Blacksburg, Va., February 27, 2015 (lower photo).


The suggestions below are from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, “Get Ready for Winter Weather,” as of November 2015 online at,” and from Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Nov. 25, 2014, news release, “Governor McAuliffe urges Virginians to get ready for winter weather; November 30-December 6 is Winter Preparedness Week in Virginia,” 11/25/14.

Before a Winter Storm

Get a kit.
Basic emergency supplies include the following:
*Three days’ food that doesn’t need refrigeration or electricity to prepare it;
*Three days’ water (a gallon per person per day);
*A battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with extra batteries;
*For businesses and offices, some bottles of water, food bars, and a radio or TV to hear local information about whether or not it is safe to travel;
*A power pack for recharging cell phones and other mobile devices.

Make a plan.
Everyone needs an emergency plan:
*Decide who your out-of-town emergency contact will be;
*Where will you meet up with family members if you can’t return home?
*Get an emergency plan worksheet at

Stay informed.
Before, during and after a winter storm, you should do the following:
*Listen to local media for information and instructions from emergency officials;
*Be aware of winter storm watches and warnings and road conditions;
*Get where you need to go before the weather gets bad;
*Get road condition information 24/7 by calling 511 or checking

Download the Ready Virginia app.
The Free app for iPhone® and Android™ features the following:
*Location-specific weather watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service;
*“I'm Safe!” notification that allows users to quickly send a text message to let family and friends know they are safe;
*A customizable family emergency plan that can be easily shared;
*A checklist for gathering emergency supplies:
*Links to register for local emergency alerts, and more.

During a Winter Storm
 At Home
*Keep space heaters at least three feet from other objects and never leave space heaters unattended;
*Install a smoke detector in every bedroom and on each level of your home, check the batteries monthly, and replace batteries a year at the same time every year;
*In case of power outages, use flashlights instead of candles for light;
*Use generators only outdoors and only in well-ventilated areas;
*Make sure outdoor pets have adequate shelter, unfrozen water, and food;
*If your household includes someone with special needs (has a disability, requires electricity to operate home medical equipment, needs to go to dialysis, etc.), call your local emergency manager to let them know where you live and what you will need during an emergency.


*Driving is most dangerous when the temperature is at or under 32° F;
*If the road is wet, patches of ice are possible, especially on bridges and curves;
*Avoid using cruise control in winter weather conditions;
*Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are plowing the road, don't pass a snowplow or spreader unless it is absolutely necessary, and treat these as you would emergency response vehicles;
*Keep an emergency kit in your car.


Used in Audio

Justin Grieser, “
Winter solstice–and other interesting sun facts–explained,” Washington Post, 11/21/11, online at; and “Winter begins today: Five questions and answers about the solstice,” 12/21/14, online at

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, “First Day of Winter 2015: The Winter Solstice,” online at

Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), “Winter Weather,” online at; and “Winter Preparedness Week,” online at  The VDEM’’s “Ready Virginia” program, online at, is the Commonwealth’s central source of information on preparedness for all types of emergencies and disasters.

Virginia Department of Transportation, “Virginia Traffic Information,”

For More Information on Winter Weather Preparedness

American Red Cross, “Winter Storm Preparedness, at; or contact your local Red Cross chapter.

Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Winter Storms and Extreme Cold,” online at

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) “Weather Radio All Hazards” network, online at

U.S. Department of Energy, “Portable Heaters,” online at

Virginia Water Central News Grouper posts on weather, available online at  The posts—mostly about Virginia, but in some cases about other areas—cover primarily severe-weather events, precipitation and drought, and tropical storms during the June-November Atlantic tropical storm season.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (

Previous episodes on winter-weather preparedness were the following:
Episode 253 (2-16-15), “Cold World” by Kat Mills, for Winter Preparedness and Safety, repeating 242 (12-1-14);
Episode 190 (12-2-13), Cold Winds Return and So Does “Winter Weather Preparedness Week” in Virginia.


This episode may help with the following Virginia’s 2010 Science Standards of Learning (SOLs):

Grades K-6 Earth Patterns, Cycles, and Change Theme
2.7 – Weather and seasonal changes affecting plants and animals.
3.8 – Basic patterns and cycles in nature, including daily, seasonal, and lunar changes.

Grades K-6 Interrelationships in Earth/Space Systems Theme
4.6 – weather conditions, phenomena, and measurements.

Grades K-6 Matter Theme
6.6 – Properties of air (including pressure, temperature, and humidity) and structure/dynamics of earth’s atmosphere.

Earth Science Course
ES.12 – weather and climate.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:

Civics and Economics Course
CE.7 – government at the state level.
CE.9 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.10 - cooperation among political jurisdictions to solve problems and settle disputes.

Government Course
GOVT.8 – state and local government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at