At the first mention of a winter freeze, traffic and commerce in North Central Texas freezes too. Why? While colder weather brings a welcome change, most people aren’t prepared for it.
Freezing rain, snow and ice can make for great outdoor fun—but can also result in car accidents, hypothermia, and carbon monoxide poisoning from defective heating units. In addition, a few inches of ice can bring down power lines that result in days-long outages. And on the road, that quick trip to grandma’s can turn into an impromptu camp-out in the car. But don’t get your mittens in a twist. With a little planning, you can protect yourself and enjoy some frosty fun!
Winter Weather Safety Tips:
- Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing instead of one heavy layer of clothing. Make sure that outer garments are water-repellent.
- Ensure that your heating source is working properly and well ventilated. Have it serviced regularly.
- Avoid driving on overpasses and bridges—they often freeze more quickly than roads.
- Winterize your car. Flush the cooling system, replace the coolant, replace the wiper blades, etc. Create a Winter Weather Kit in case you’re stranded.
- Winterize your pipes. Keep faucets dripping when the temperature drops below freezing.
- Take extra precautions to ensure the well-being of your animals by providing plenty of water and food, as well as appropriate shelter.
Black Ice Black ice is caused by extremely cold rain droplets that form a film of clear ice on roadways (it’s called “black” because you can see the black asphalt through it). It’s hard to see and extremely slick, so look out for this hazard when the temperature drops near freezing!
El Niño and La Niña: Many large-scale weather elements contribute to the winter patterns we see over North Central Texas. Recent research has revealed that the El Niño and La Niña may play a significant role in the conditions we experience.
What Are They?
El Niño and La Niña are fluctuations in the oceanic and atmospheric circulations lasting for several months. Their most recognizable feature is a warming or cooling of the waters in the eastern and central tropical Pacific Ocean. El Niño can occur if the waters are warmer than normal and La Niña can occur if colder than normal waters are observed in this area.
How Do They Affect Us?
El Niño winter: North Central Texas typically experiences cool but not exceptionally cold temperatures. The area also tends to receive above-normal precipitation. La Niña winter: Characterized by warmer than normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation over North Central Texas. Winters with neutral conditions, neither an El Niño nor a La Niña, tend to be near normal on the average. However, our most extreme winter events tend to occur during near-neutral winters.