Winter weather and extreme cold safety

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - We are wrapping up Fall Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Mississippi. Today's topic is how to stay safe when winter weather threatens.

Although uncommon, winter weather events could affect our area. You can stay safe during these events by staying off the roads and staying inside with plenty of dry food and water in case the power goes out.

We don't get a lot of winter weather winter here in Mississippi, but it's important to know what to do to stay safe if winter weather threatens- especially if you're on the roads, "it's good to have blankets in case you do get stuck in your car, you know, we've had situations with ice storms where there's a big traffic back up and people are stranded in their vehicles for several hours. So it's a good idea to have blankets, maybe some water, you know maybe some sort of food, like snacks, just too kind of hold you over until vehicles are able to move again." Daniel Lamb, a forecaster with the Jackson office of the National Weather Service explained.

The three major types of winter precipitation are snow, sleet, and freezing rain.

"Sleet is ice pellets, basically, as it falls, it's already frozen, so it's a little bit similar to hail, in that it's ice when it falls, but it's just developed through a different process. Freezing rain is when you have liquid rain that falls and it freezes on contact with the surface because the surface is below freezing." says Lamb.

The National Weather Service issues three main winter weather alerts: a winter storm watch, which means a snow, sleet, or ice storm is possible, a winter storm warning which means a snow, sleet, or ice storm is expected, and a winter weather advisory, which means wintry precipitation is likely, but doesn't meet the criteria for a winter storm.

Long periods of extreme cold can also happen during the winter months. That could be dangerous, especially if wind is a factor: "for wind chill, aside from just having the temperature, it also takes into account winds and wind gusts and that can tell us what it actually feels like to your body, and also kind of gives you an idea of what kind of impact beyond just the temperature that the air mass will have on you in terms of whether you might have potential frostbite." Lamb explains.

The most recent winter weather event to hit our area was in January of this year, where we saw between a quarter of an inch to an inch of snow, sleet, and ice accumulations.