Monday, November 28, 2016

Episode 344 (11-28-16): Winter Preparedness and Safety, featuring “Drive the Cold Winter Away” by Timothy Seaman

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:22)

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

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 11-28-16.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of November 28, 2016.

MUSIC - ~12 sec

That music is part of “Drive the Cold Winter Away,” by Timothy Seaman of Williamsburg, Va., accompanied by Phillip Skeens.   It opens our annual episode on winter preparedness.

In 2016, winter comes to Virginia—astronomically—on December 21, whether you’re ready or not.  Here are some tips from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management for staying safe from winter’s hazardous roads, power outages, and fire hazards.

*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 Timothy Seaman for permission to use this week’s music, and until next spring comes along to “Drive the Cold Winter Away,” here’s hoping that you can stay warm, dry, and safe.

MUSIC – ~21 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.


“Drive the Cold Winter Away” is a traditional tune performed by Timothy Seaman and Phillip Skeens on the 1998 album “Celebration of Centuries,” copyright by Timothy Seaman and Pine Wind Music, used with permission.  More information about Mr. Seaman’s music is available online  This music was previously featured in Episode 300, 1-25-16, on winter words.

Winter-weather preparedness poster from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, online at

Icy tree limbs threatening to down power lines are a frequent winter concern in Virginia. Photo taken in Blacksburg, Va., January 25, 2015.


Before A Winter Storm

The recommendations below are from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, “Nov. 29-Dec. 5 is Winter Preparedness Week,” 11/24/15, online at”

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, bottled 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 by calling 511 or checking

Download the Ready Virginia app, online at
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.

During A Winter Storm

The recommendations below are from the National Weather Service, “What To Do If You're Caught in a Winter Storm,” online at

*Find Shelter: Try to stay dry and cover all exposed body parts.
*When there is no shelter nearby: Build a lean-to, windbreak or snow cave for protection from the wind. Build a fire for heat and to attract attention. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
*Melt Snow for Drinking Water: Eating unmelted snow will lower your body temperature.
*Exercise: From time to time, move arms, legs, fingers and toes vigorously to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.   Avoid overexertion such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car or walking in deep snow if you are not in good health.  The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack.  Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.

In Vehicles
If you must drive during a storm, take the following precautions:
*Slow down!  Even if the roads just look wet they could still be slick.  More than 6,000 fatalities occur on the roadways each year due to weather conditions.
*Make sure your vehicle is completely clear of ice or snow before starting the trip.  Flying snow from cars causes accidents.
*Let someone know where you are going and what route you will take. If something happens, this person will know where to start a search.
*Don't leave the house without the following: a fully charged mobile phone charger and an emergency supplies kit in your car.
*If you are driving and begin to skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas and turn your wheels in the direction you want the front of the car to go.  If you have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply steady pressure to the brake pedal.  Never pump the brakes on an ABS equipped vehicle.
*If you are having trouble seeing due to weather conditions, pull over to the side of the road and stop your car until visibility improves.  Turn off your lights and use your parking break when stopped so that another car won't mistakenly follow your tail/brake lights and end up hitting you.

If your car gets stuck during a storm:
*Stay in the vehicle! If you leave your vehicle, you will become disoriented quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
*Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat.  While running the motor, open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.  Clear snow from the exhaust pipe to avoid gas poisoning.
*Be visible to rescuers. Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine.  Tie a bright colored cloth, preferably red, to your antenna or door.  After snow stops falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.

*Stay Inside.
*When using heat from a fire place, wood stove, space heater, etc., use fire safeguards and properly ventilate.
*If you have a gas furnace, make sure it is not blocked by a snowdrift as soon as it's safe to go out.  If you have an upstairs gas furnace which vents out the roof, you may need to turn off the upstairs unit until the snow melts off your roof.
If your heat goes out:
*Close off unneeded rooms to avoid wasting heat.
*Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
*Close blinds or curtains to keep in some heat.
*Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.  Drinks lots of water and other non-caffeinated, non-alcholohic drinks to prevent dehydration.  Cold air is very dry.
*Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.  Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration and subsequent chill.


Used in Audio

Deborah Byrd, “Everything you need to know: December solstice 2016,” EarthSky, online at

CNN, “Solstice Fast Facts,” 6/23/16, online at

Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), “Winter Weather,” online at; and “Winter Preparedness Week 2015,” 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, “Snowstorms and Extreme Cold,” online at

National Weather Service, “Weather and Water Events Preparedness Calendar,” online at  This page lists events nationwide, by state.

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 (  See specifically the “Weather/Natural Disasters” subject category.

Previous episodes on winter-weather preparedness are the following:
Episode 292, 11-30-15, “Winter is Coming” by The Steel Wheels Gives the Cue for Winter Preparedness and Safety in 2015-16.

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.

Previous episodes on winter weather in general included the following:
Episode 300, 1-25-16, Winter Word Whirlwind.

Episode 249, 1/19/15, At the Freezing Point (on water’s properties at cold temperatures).

Episode 199, 2/3/14, Snow and Ice Follow Physics and Chemistry.

Episode 144 1/14/13, Ice on the Pond.


The episode may help with Virginia’s 2013 Music Standards of Learning (SOLs) at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

This episode may also help with the following Virginia 2010 Science 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
2.6 – identification of common storms and other weather phenomena.
4.6 – weather conditions, phenomena, and measurements.
6.6 – properties of air and structure of Earth’s atmosphere; including weather topics.

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.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOLs, which become effective in the 2017-18 school year:

Civics and Economics Course
CE.7 – government at the state level.
CE.8 – government at the local level.
CE.10 – 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.18 - 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