Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Episode 643 (12-5-22): Getting Ready for Weathering Winter

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (5:21).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information

Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 12-2-22.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the weeks of December 5 and December 12, 2022.

SOUND – ~ 5 sec

That sound of a winter storm opens our annual episode on winter-weather preparedness.  To start, have a listen for about 15 seconds to three more mystery sounds, and see if you can guess what winter-preparedness aspects you’re hearing.

SOUNDS  - ~14 sec – Virginia 511 Road Conditions System phone recording; filling a container with water; smoke alarm beeping.

If you guessed road conditions, emergency supplies of water and other essentials, and fire protection, you’re right!

In 2022, winter astronomically begins in Virginia on December 21 at 4:48 p.m.  That’s the Eastern Standard time of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, when that hemisphere is at its maximum tilt away from the sun.

From well before the December solstice, all the way through the season’s conclusion in March, winter can bring cold temperatures, hazardous roads, power outages, fire hazards, and other concerns.  To help you be prepared, here are 10 tips compiled from information provided by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

1.  Avoid traveling in winter-storm conditions if you can.  If you must travel, get road conditions from the Virginia 511 telephone system, mobile app, or Web site, and carry in your vehicle an emergency kit, including jumper cables, blankets, a flashlight, food and water, and other items.

2.  Have battery-powered sources of lighting and information, along with enough batteries to last through a power outage of several days.

3.  Develop and practice a family emergency plan that covers sheltering; escape from a home fire; emergency meeting places; communications; a supply of food, water, and medications; and other factors specific to your circumstances.

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

5.  Install a smoke detector in every bedroom and on every floor level and replace the batteries at least annually.

6.  Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home and check or replace the battery every six months.

7.  If you use space heaters, make sure they’ll switch off automatically if the heater falls over; plug them into wall outlets, not extension cords; keep them at least three feet from combustible objects; don’t leave heaters unattended; and check for cracked or damaged wires or plugs.

8.  Generators, camp stoves, and other devices that burn gasoline or charcoal should be used outdoors only.

9.  Learn where to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.

And 10.  Be careful of overexertion during snow shoveling.

More information on preparing for winter weather, fires, and other emergencies is available online from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, at

Next time the forecast calls for snow, freezing rain, or other wintry weather, here’s hoping that you can stay warm, dry, and safe.

We close with about 35 seconds of music for the approaching winter.  Here’s part of “Winter is Coming,” by the Harrisonburg- and Rockingham County, Va.-based band, The Steel Wheels.

MUSIC - ~36 sec – Lyrics: “Summer’s gone, we’re movin’ on, can’t regret that frozen dawn.  Summer’s over, winter’s coming; summer’s over winter’s coming; summer’s over winter’s coming.”


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The winter storm sound was from the recording DMP013016 HEAVYSNOWSTORM.wav, by user martypinso, made available for public use on at, accessed 12-1-22.

The excerpt from the Virginia 511 phone service was recorded by Virginia Water Radio on December 1, 2022.  The running water sounds and smoke alarm were also recorded by Virginia Water Radio.

“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 This music was used previously by Virginia Water Radio most recently in Episode 603, 11-51-21.

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


(Photographs are by Virginia Water Radio.)

Snow on U.S. 460 Bypass in Blacksburg, Va., January 16, 2022.

Ice on the New River in Giles County, Va., January 1, 2018.

Red-winged Blackbirds in a snowy tree in Blacksburg, Va., March 12, 2018.


The following is from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, “Winter Weather,” online at, as of 12-7-22.

Winter storms can range from freezing rain or ice to a few hours of moderate snowfall, to a blizzard that lasts for several days.  Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures, power outages, and unpredictable road conditions.

Before, during, and after a winter storm, roads and walkways may become extremely dangerous or impassable. Access to critical community services such as public transportation, child care, healthcare providers and schools may be limited. Preparing your home, car, and family before cold weather and a winter storm arrives is critical.  [Following are several suggestions.]

*During a winter storm, stay off the roads as much as possible and only drive when absolutely necessary. Always give snow plows the right of way.
*Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning device inside your home, garage, basement, crawlspace, or any other partially enclosed area.
*Snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks! Always avoid overexertion when shoveling.
*When severe weather occurs, plan to check on elderly or disabled neighbors and relatives.
*If you must travel, know the road conditions before you leave home. Visit or call 511 for road condition updates.
*Protect yourself from frostbite! Hands, feet, and face are the most commonly affected areas so wear a hat, and mittens (which are warmer than gloves) and cover your mouth with a scarf to reduce heat loss.
*Keep dry! Change out of wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat.
*Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer or heavy clothing.

Winter Storm Watch – BE AWARE

Severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.

Winter Storm Warning – TAKE ACTION

Severe winter conditions have either begun or will begin soon in your area.


*Make sure your home is properly insulated.
*Check the weather stripping around your windows and doors.
*Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
*Have additional heat sources  on hand in case of a power outage.
*Keep a fire extinguisher accessible.
*Replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector annually.


*Batteries lose power as temperatures drop, be sure to have yours tested.
*Check your car’s antifreeze level.
*Have your radiator system serviced.
*Replace your car’s windshield wiper fluid with a wintertime mix.
*Proactively replace your car’s worn tires and wiper blades.
*To help with visibility, clean off your car entirely – including your trunk, roof, windows, and headlights.


Tailor your winter car emergency supply kit to you and your family’s needs. Here are suggested items:

Drinking water and snacks for everyone in the car, including pets;
Basic first-aid kit;
Warm coat and insulating layers (sweatpants, gloves, hat, socks,);
Rags, paper towels or pre-moistened wipes;
Basic set of tools;
Car emergency warning devices such as road flares or reflectors;
Ice scraper/snow brush;
Jumper cables/jump pack;
Fire extinguisher;
Items for children such as diapers, baby wipes, toys, etc.;
Flashlight, with extra batteries;;
Hand warmers;
Paper map;
Portable smartphone power bank;
Extra medication;
Garbage bags;;
Traction aid such as sand, salt or non-clumping, cat litter;
Tarp, raincoat, and gloves;


*Dehydration can make you more susceptible to hypothermia.
*If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet!  Don’t leave pets outside for prolonged periods of time and have plenty of fresh, unfrozen water on hand.
*It can snow at temperatures well above freezing.
*Temperatures do not have to be below zero degrees to cause harm.


American Red Cross, “Winter Storm Safety,” online at, or contact your local Red Cross chapter.

Farmers’ Almanac, “Winter Solstice 2022: When Is It, and What Is It?” online at         

Federal Emergency Management Agency:
“Be Prepared for a Winter Storm,” online at;
“Build a Kit,” online at;
“Car Safety,” online at;  
“Make a Plan,” online at;
“Winter Weather,” online at

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

National Weather Service/Cleveland, Ohio, Forecast Office, “The Seasons, the Equinox, and the Solstices,” online at

National Weather Service, “Weather and Water Events Preparedness Calendar,” online at

National Weather Service/Wakefield, Va., Forecast Office, “Virginia Winter Weather Awareness Week,” online at

Smithsonian Science Education Center, “What is the Winter Solstice,” online at

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
“Carbon Monoxide Poisoning/Frequently Asked Questions,” online at;
“Proper Use of Candles During a Power Outage,” online at

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

Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), online at  This is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s central source of information on preparedness for all types of emergencies and disasters.  See particularly the following pages:
“Winter Weather,” online at;
“Fires,” online at;
“Make an Car Emergency Kit” (1 min./31 sec. video), online at

Virginia Department of Health, “Winter Weather Preparedness,” online at

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


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Weather/Climate/Natural Disasters” subject category.

Following are links to previous years’ winter-preparedness episodes, with music used in the episodes.

Episode 139, 12-3-12.
Episode 190, 12-2-13 (a repeat of Episode 139).
Episode 242, 12-1-14 – featuring “Cold World” by Kat Mills.
Episode 292, 11-30-15 – featuring “Winter is Coming” by The Steel Wheels.
Episode 344, 11-28-16 – featuring “Drive the Cold Winter Away” by Timothy Seaman.
Episode 396, 11-27-17 – featuring “Winter’s Fall” by No Strings Attached.
Episode 448, 11-26-18 – featuring “New Boots” by John McCutcheon.
Episode 501, 12-2-19
– featuring “Cold Frosty Morn’” by New Standard.
Episode 553, 11-30-20
– featuring “Drive the Cold Winter Away” by Timothy Seaman and “Cold World” by Kat Mills.
Episode 605, 11-29-21
– featuring “Mid-winter Etude” by Timothy Seaman.

Following are links to some other winter-related episodes.

Frost – Episode 597, 10-4-21.
Freezing and ice – Episode 606, 12-6-21 (especially for grades K-3).
Ice on ponds and lakes – Episode 404, 1-22-18 (especially for grades 4-8).
Ice on rivers – Episode 617, 2-21-22.
Polar Plunge® for Special Olympics – Episode 356, 2-20-17.
Snow terms – Episode 612, 1-17-22.
Snow physics and chemistry – Episode 407, 2-12-18 (especially for high school grades).
Snow, sleet, and freezing rain – Episode 613, 1-24-22.
Surviving freezing – Episode 556, 12-21-20.
Winter precipitation and water supplies – Episode 567, 3-8-21.
Water thermodynamics – Episode 610, 1-3-22.
Winter birds sampler from the Chesapeake Bay area – Episode 565, 2-22-21.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs 

Grades K-3 plus 5: Matter
K.4 – Water is important in our daily lives and has properties.

Grades K-5: Earth and Space Systems
1.7 – There are weather and seasonal changes; including that changes in temperature, light, and precipitation affect plants and animals, including humans.
2.6 – There are different types of weather on Earth.
2.7 – Weather patterns and seasonal changes affect plants, animals, and their surroundings.
3.7 – There is a water cycle and water is important to life on Earth.
4.4 – Weather conditions and climate have effects on ecosystems and can be predicted.
4.6 – There are relationships among Earth, the moon, and the sun, including the causes for Earth’s seasons.

Grade 6
6.3 – There is a relationship between the sun, Earth, and the moon, including that Earth’s tilt as it revolves around the sun causes the seasons.

Earth Science
ES.3 – Earth is unique in our solar system, including that the dynamics of the sun-Earth-moon system cause seasons, tides, and eclipses.
ES.12 – The Earth’s weather and climate result from the interaction of the sun’s energy with the atmosphere, oceans, and the land.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-3 Geography Theme
1.6 – Virginia climate, seasons, and landforms.

World Geography Course
WG.2 – How selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.

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

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

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 333, 9-12-16
– on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18
– on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 407, 2-12-18
– on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19
– on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20
– on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20
– on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20
– on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.
Episode 606, 12-6-21
– on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.