Monday, November 27, 2017

Episode 396 (11-27-17): Getting Ready before the Temperature and Frozen Water Fall

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:02).

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

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 11-24-17.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of November 27, 2017.

SOUNDS – ~4 sec

This week, that sound of sleet opens our annual episode on winter preparedness.

In 2017, winter comes to Virginia on December 21 at 11:28 a.m. That’s the Virginia time of the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, when the hemisphere is at its maximum annual tilt away from the sun.  To help you be prepared for all that the Winter Solstice foretells, 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 mobile app.
*Have an emergency kit for your vehicle, including jumper cables, water, non-perishable food, blankets, a flashlight, and other items.
*Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, especially one with a NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] Weather Radio band.
*Get fireplaces, wood stoves, and chimneys inspected and cleaned.
*Install a smoke detector in every bedroom and on every floor level, test them monthly, and replace the batteries every six months.
*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, and in the online show notes for this Water Radio episode.

Thanks to for the sleet sounds. Next time you hear those sounds for real, or perhaps these…

SOUND - ~ 6 sec - wind plus NOAA Weather Radio winter weather message excerpt

…here’s hoping that you can stay warm, dry, and safe.

We close with some music appropriate for the season about to arrive. Here’s part of “Winter’s Fall,” by the Blacksburg- and Roanoke, Va.,-based band, No Strings Attached.

MUSIC - ~24 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 Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The sound of snow and sleet was recorded by user sanus-excipio (dated December 15, 2007), and made available for public use by, online at, under the Creative Commons Attribution—Non-commercial 3.0 License.  For more information on Creative Commons licenses, please see; information on the Attribution—Non-Commercial License specifically is online at

The NOAA Weather Radio excerpt was recorded from the November 26, 2014 (7 a.m. EST) broadcast by the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Blacksburg, Va.

“Winter’s Fall,” from the 1999 album “In the Vinyl Tradition, Vol. II,” is copyright by No Strings Attached and Enessay Music, used with permission.  This selection was featured previously in Virginia Water Radio Episode 258, 3-23/15.  More information about No Strings Attached is available from their Web site,

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at

Winter-weather preparedness poster from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, accessed online at, 11/22/17.
Snow and cold temperatures at 7 a.m. in Blacksburg, Va., January 7, 2017.


Before A Winter Storm 

The recommendations below were taken from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, “Nov. 29-Dec. 5 is Winter Preparedness Week,” 11/24/15, online at,” accessed 11/21/17.

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. [Suggestions from the Department of Homeland Security for emergency kits for home and vehicle are online at]

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, checking, or using the 511 mobile app.

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; accessed 11/21/17.

*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. [Suggestions for a vehicle kit are online at]
*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 for Audio

Deborah Byrd, “December solstice 2017 is the 21st,” EarthSky, online at

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “Build a Kit,” online at; and “Car Safety,” online at

U.S. Fire Administration, “Fire Prevention and Public Education,” online at

Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), “Fires,” online at

VDEM, “Make an Car Emergency Kit,” 1 min./31 sec. video, online at

VDEM, “Prepare and Recover,” online at  This is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s central source of information on preparedness for all types of emergencies and disasters.

VDEM, Winter Weather,” online at

Virginia Department of Transportation, “Virginia Traffic Information,” online at

For More Information on Winter Weather Preparedness

American Red Cross, “Winter Storm Safety,” online 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 about other areas in some cases—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.

Following are links to previous episodes on winter-weather preparedness:
Episode 344, 11-28-16, Winter Preparedness and Safety, Featuring “Drive the Cold Winter Away” by Timothy Seaman.
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 Episode 242, 12-1-14).
Episode 190, 12-2-13, Cold Winds Return and So Does Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Virginia.
Episode 139, 12-3-12, Winter Weather Preparedness.

Following are links to some episodes on winter weather in general:
Episode 300, 1-25-16, Winter Word Whirlwind.
Episode 258, 3-23-15, “Winter’s Fall,” by No Strings Attached, for Spring’s Arrival and the Water that Winter Left Behind (on recharge of groundwater and surface water supplies in winter).
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.

Earth Science Course
ES.12 – weather and climate.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOLs:

Civics and Economics Course
CE.7 – government at the state level.

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.

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

Following are links to previous Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.
Episode 249 (1-19-15) – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 250 (1-26-15) – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 255 (3-2-15) – on density, for 5th and 6th grade;
Episode 282 (9-21-15) – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten;
Episode 309 (3-28-16) – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade;
Episode 332 (9-12-16) – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.