Winter Storm
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Gandalf Is Coming! Get Ready for Winter Storms

Don’t be surprised if, a month or so from now, you wake up to a foot of snow dumped overnight by … Zeus! That’s right; this year, for the first time, The Weather Channel is naming noteworthy winter storms.

A nor’easter that hit parts of New England in early November was dubbed Athena, putting the winter storm naming plan into motion, and since then there have been Brutus, Caesar, Gandalf, Nemo, and, most recently, Q! (The winter storm names are assigned in alphabetical order.)

It’s apparently a strategy to boost storm preparedness.

“Naming winter storms will raise awareness, which will lead to more proactive efforts to plan ahead, resulting in less impact on the public overall,” says The Weather Channel spokesman Tom Niziol.

It’s important to note that, unlike tropical storms and hurricanes, which are named from a list maintained by the World Meteorological Organization, winter storms are being named only by The Weather Channel, not any governmental or official entity.

Names like Gandalf, Q, and Nemo (all on The Weather Channel’s list of named storms for the 2012-13 winter season), will certainly make this year’s winter storms memorable.

So, are you ready for Q? You can get a head start on the wild weather with these five preparation tips:

  1. Stock up on supplies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says that in case of any disaster, you should prepare a three-day food and water supply for each person in your household. That includes at least one gallon of water per person per day. Keep extra medication in your first aid kit.
  1. Winterize your car. Install snow tires and new wiper blades, check the antifreeze level, keep the gas tank full and check your tire pressure. As the temperature drops, so does the pressure in your tires. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s “Safe Winter Driving” publication says you should keep a tire gauge in your car and check the pressure when your tires have not been driven on for more than three hours, making sure each tire is filled to the manufacturer’s suggested number of pounds per square inch.
  1. Prepare for lost power. Stock up on batteries, flashlights, fuel for alternate heating methods (such as fireplaces or wood burning stoves), extra blankets and warm clothing. If your home loses power during periods of extreme cold, be prepared to evacuate to an emergency shelter.
  1. Practice generator safety. Carbon monoxide kills. Never use a generator, camp stove or other gas-burning device inside your home, garage, basement or crawl space.
  1. Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia. Before shoveling off the snow that Gandalf dumped on your driveway, dress for the weather. Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing underneath your winter coat. This allows your body to efficiently balance the cold outdoor temperatures with the internal heat created by your exertion.

What do you think about The Weather Channel’s plan to name this winter’s snowstorms? Are you ready for Xerxes or Zeus?

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