Image Courtesy: Ready.gov, Snow plow clearing fresh snowfall from a street
DISCUSSION: Whether it is December 1st or February 1st, one question that is often not thought about enough by most people is “Am I ready for this Winter?”. It is important to note that there are multiple layers to “being ready for Winter-time weather” which can range from having a shovel ready to having enough food and water, depending on the nature as well as the severity of the winter storm. However, with the right planning well-ahead of any Winter season, you can more easily avoid the biggest “headaches” that plague many people year in and year out when it comes to being ready for the next Winter storm.
First off, while it may seem obvious, one very important factor is knowing that you have enough warm, sweat-wicking clothes on hand. This is important since when you go outside during and/or after a winter storm, you are likely to perspire while working to clean-up your and potentially other people’s property. During this time, your body’s core temperature is rising and as a result, your body’s sweat can consequently lead you to being damp and extra uncomfortable due to very cold temperatures. Thus, this could come down to simply having solid waterproof boots, waterproof/insulated gloves, insulated underlayers, as well as a comfortable, insulated winter jacket. So, before entering the next Winter season, always remember to make sure you have warm boots and Winter-time apparel on tap.
Another layer of preparation which is useful to have on hand ahead of any given Winter season, is of course having a snow shovel (and/or a snow blower) on hand along with rock salt. The benefit of having a snow shovel (and/or possibly a snow blower) on hand would be so you have a definitive ability to move snow during and/or after any given winter storm. However, if you happen to have a working snow blower on hand, this can make the process substantially easier overall, but still having the snow shovel to fall back on if your snow blower should happen to break down or potentially run out of fuel (depending on the type of snow blower). Along with snow removal resources, the second layer to snow removal is ensuring safe travel ability in and around your property which can be helped by putting down sufficient rock salt to minimize re-freezing of leftover snow or melted snow. Rock salt can also be put down ahead of the first snowflakes or ice pellets/freezing rain falling so there is a pre-storm mitigation of surface freezing potential from the onset of given storm impacts. So, before the next Winter season, it is good to make sure you have a handy snow shovel (and/or snow blower) on hand especially since when snowstorms come into the upcoming forecast, corresponding Winter-time weather supplies can sell out rather quickly.
A third layer of preparation has to do with both having sufficient food, medical, and general safety supplies on hand for your family (as well as your pets if you have any). This can vary from having enough pertinent medications on hand, having enough flashlights and batteries on hand in case the power goes out, as well as extra ice for your refrigerator and freezer to keep all your fresh and/or frozen food cool in case the power goes out. So, before the next Winter season, take a few minutes to consider whether you are truly ready for the next winter storm, since you may help yourself avoid many unnecessary stress and worries.
Attached below are some additional references courtesy of the American Red Cross and Ready.Gov on winter weather safety best practices:
American Red Cross: Winter Storm Safety. 2022: https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm.html (Accessed February 27, 2022).
Ready.Gov: Winter Weather: 2022: https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather (Accessed February 27, 2022).
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© 2022 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
DISCUSSION: As we get closer to the heart of the primary severe weather season across a good portion of North America, there is no question that many people mind’s will naturally become more concerned about Spring-time weather patterns. Having said that, there are still most definitely things which you can do to prepare and remain ready for the severe weather season in good measure.
First and foremost, making sure that you have an adequate 5 to 7-day supply of food and water is a very good plan to have in any situation and just duplicate that amount if you have a small to larger family. A good trick is to buy enough for what you will need, but not overbuy so there is still enough to go around for others both in your area and throughout your larger community around you. As far as everything else is concerned, it can also be optimal to buy or rent an external back-up power generator (if your finances can allow) since when severe thunderstorms impact any given region, power less can be widespread and have a long duration. Thus, there is generally no such thing as making too few preparations, but by the same token it is not good to overdue it so there is enough sustainability across the retailer and grocery sectors of the economy both on regional and local scales for everyone to safely get their fair share.
With all of that considered, another good aspect of any good severe weather readiness plan to have in mind before severe weather strikes your home region is to always know where you and anyone you live with would go in the event that a tornadic thunderstorm is approaching your area. Remember, that going out to your car and trying to outrun a storm is NEVER a sound or reasonable idea since some severe thunderstorms have been known to travel at up to 50 to 60 mph which is faster than cars in nearly all residential areas and even some state highway roads. Thus, you ALWAYS need to have a plan for staying put and know the innermost room in your home and quickly being able to grab a mattress to protect yourself in the innermost room of your home or apartment from any potential debris or broken glass.
The bottom line is that when it comes to anticipating, preparing for, and being ready for severe weather, time is not always a luxury which you have so acting in order to be prepared now is ideal. That way, you can be ready at a moment’s notice within 24 to 48 hours if a dangerous situation should potentially unfold.
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© 2020 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
Preparing for an Emergency: Staying Weather-Ready
About the globe, people experience weather every day, no matter where they are. Be it a sunny day with a light breeze, a chilly morning with frost, the passing rainstorm, or maybe a slightly windy day, every area is affected by the weather. Though, on occasion, the weather can become more prominent, maybe even iminent in our everyday lives when it turns dangerous, or even life-threatening. Suddenly, something that is normally tranquil and unharming presents an imminent threat, leaving one to make quick decisions and take action in order to preserve and protect life. In these moments, having a plan or course of action, may be what saves lives and prevents injury. Though, how exactly can one prepare for the threat of dangerous weather when we cannot necessarily control it?
Although we cannot control the weather, one thing we may have control of is our plan of action in the event of severe weather. By having a plan, one may feel more assured that they will be alright when severe weather arises. A plan might include a variety of steps or procedures including: A designated area in which to take shelter, emergency contacts, a designated meeting place after the severe weather has passed, etc. Depending on the type of severe weather, this plan may vary as well. In the event of a hurricane, one may plan to shelter in an area outside of the expected hurricane strike zone, and may plan to shelter there with friends or loved ones who may also be affected by the hurricane days ahead of the actual storm. In the event of tornadoes- severe events that allow for less preparation and require immediate action- one may designate a room in their house in which to take shelter from a tornado, and have supplies ready to go in that same room.
Aside from designating a place of shelter, part of the plan may include a list of supplies as well. Depending on the individual these supplies may vary, especially if the individual has health issues requiring certain medications, therapies, assistance, etc, though, there are baseline supplies that each and every household should have ready to go. Items such as battery operated flashlights, battery-operated emergency radios, blankets, phone power banks, basic first-aid supplies (bandaids, disinfectant, gauze, medical tape), a whistle to signal for help, dust masks, and extra batteries are just a few of the items one may have prepared and ready to go in a “go-bag” in the event of an emergency. Of course, non-perishable food items such as canned vegetables, cured meats, fruit preserves, and all-other shelf-stable items are necessary. In fact, per FEMA guidelines, it is recommended that a minimum of a three-day supply of food and water be prepared for each individual in the event of a disaster. A three day supply of water for one person is noted as one gallon per person, per day, or three gallons total.
When severe weather strikes, there is no doubt that it can leave one feeling scared, disoriented, worried, and nervous. Weather can turn and change quickly, sometimes seemingly unpredictably, which is why it is of utmost importance for one to be emergency, or weather-ready. By remaining weather-ready with a “go-bag” or an emergency supply box at one’s disposal, alongside a plan of action, one may lessen their worry and remain confident that they have planned and prepared for when severe weather rolls in.
Want to learn more about weather safety and preparedness? Click here: https://www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/weather-safety-educational-topics
© 2020 Weather Forecaster Alexis Clouser
While taking an effort to stay informed about the current news, weather is one item that is frequently changing. Most weather models run four times a day, every six hours, and are based upon the current conditions when the model is running. Forecasts that are shown in the morning can easily differ from what is shown in the evening. For instance, a model can run when it’s cold and snow covered in the morning and drift towards a cold forecast, but if the snow melts by the afternoon, the following run will paint a different picture. Most weather forecasts that are received while on-the-go from your mobile device are refreshed based on recent weather model runs. This could lead to deceiving forecasts that look odd at first glance and further the need to stay up to date.
First, a look at the different types of forecasts:
Short-Range Forecasts are forecasts that range from zero to 36 hours which provide information on the nearest term happening. In this timeframe, examples of what you would see include: storm warnings, sharp temperature drops, high waves/marine warnings, or aviation conditions. Meteorologists often update these forecasts with extensive discussions as often as the model runs.
Photo: Forecast provided from the National Weather Service including near-term warnings and small descriptions -- Captured on March 29, 2020. (Courtesy of the National Weather Service)
Medium-Range Forecasts are forecasts that range around three to seven days. These forecasts can determine temperature trends or expectations throughout the work-week. These forecasts are useful for sharing when an umbrella is necessary or when you can expect sunshine again. The confidence lowers in medium-range forecasts and there is more variability to be expected.
Photo: Extended forecast that displays expectations for the work week, and are subject to change as forecast models run. (Courtesy of Wunderground)
Long-Range Forecasts are forecasts that typically depict a probability of temperatures and precipitation chances in a given area 6-10 days in advance, or 8-14 days in advance. You will find these outlooks depict broad information on trends that are expected based on historical data. This will tell you whether to expect warmer, colder or normal temperatures for a given timeframe. Likewise, you will see if normal, wetter or drier conditions are expected.
Photo: 6-10 day outlook that displays precipitation probability from April 3-7, 2020. (Courtesy of NOAA)
Extended Outlooks are generalized forecasts that can depict probability similar to Long-Range Forecasts but for given single months, multiple months or seasons. Arguably, some long-range forecasts can still fit in as an outlook, given that it is a probabilistic forecast rather than a deterministic approach. These can be useful to planning a vacation, determining the best time to plant a garden, or to various elements of farming.
Photo: One month temperature probability outlook, valid for April 2020. (Courtesy of NOAA)
While there are many forecasts that are displayed and accessible to the general public, these examples below depict Short-Range Forecasts and how they can be deceiving:
Currently at 2pm in Mid-February: 39 degrees and sunny
High: 43, Low: 28; Clouds and Snow Showers
This can be deceiving because we understand that we can’t see temperatures that high when it’s snowing. While this is a description, it may appear on your mobile app as a snowflake icon with a high temperature of 43. If you look deeper, you’ll see the low temperature and perhaps an hourly forecast that will tell you when to actually expect the snow showers to occur.
Currently at 8am in October: 58 degrees and cloudy
High: 62, Low: 33; AM Clouds and PM Sun/Windy
We are used to seeing the highest temperatures at the time of peak heating, which typically occurs in the afternoon. This forecast suggests that the low temperature will be 33 degrees, and the high temperature is going to be 62 degrees. In times of strong warm advection and overnight cloud cover, we can actually see temperatures rise overnight and be warmest in the very early morning hours. The drop in temperatures is a result of a cold front passing and ramping up the wind speeds along with bringing in higher pressure and sunshine.
Currently 3pm in June; 62 degrees cloudy and windy
High: 84, Low: 60; Sunny and warm, Chance of a thunderstorm in the afternoon
While the time of this forecast seems to be when the temperature would be the warmest, the particular timing of the thunderstorm was in the afternoon. Warmth starting early in the day lead to rapidly rising air and formed storms quickly in the afternoon hours which lead to rapid cooling following its passing.
Currently at 2am in January; -6 degrees and calm
High: 18, Low: 0; Clear and cold
This is a forecast provided to a large area that covers a handful of small towns and the temperature taken at this location was in a remote place. The location experienced stronger radiative cooling than the model could depict, and showed a 6 degree difference from what was forecasted. Once the local temperature was lower than forecasted, a special weather statement was issued to correct the issue. In this case, a mobile-app may not refresh with the new forecast and show differing values.
While these forecasts depict what can be present on a mobile app at a given time, there are many cases to see a deceiving forecast. Some mobile apps may refresh after a model run is performed and can automate a forecast for a given area. This does not mean that they will refresh right away. It is important to read further beyond the icons that are listed, and take into account hourly forecasts and descriptions attached to the forecast. Professional meteorologists also write discussions on forecasts in the near and far term, which are updated nearly as often as a model runs. The best practice is to stay informed about the big picture, and keep track of local happenings to be aware of what you could experience once you walk out your front door.
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©2020 Meteorologist Jason Maska
You’ve probably sat at home before, watching as it pours outside, and seen a notification somewhere warning you of flash flooding. Flash flooding occurs when an area receives too much rain in a short period of time, and the environment doesn’t have enough time to get rid of all the water. Consequently, rivers, drainage systems, and other areas where water collects tend to overflow rapidly. Often, this water will move onto roadways, making travel extremely dangerous. Sometimes it’s hard to tell how deep this water is, and people will try to drive through it, but end up getting stuck or washed away by fast moving currents. This is why forecasters will tell you to avoid these flooded roadways, and find an alternate route. Thus, the saying “turn around, don’t drown” comes in. If you aren’t sure about how deep water is, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and you should just turn around and find another way.
How dangerous is water? Water weighs 62.4 pounds per cubic foot, and can flow anywhere between 6 and 12 miles per hour. When a vehicle gets stuck in water, the momentum is transferred to the vehicle, meaning the water moves the vehicle with it. As the water rises, 500 pounds of force per foot is applied to the vehicle, and the vehicle displaces 1,500 pounds of water. This makes driving in deep water (2 or more feet) extremely dangerous, as the water can easily carry away most vehicles.
So, turn around, don’t drown. If you’re not sure how deep the water is, just drive somewhere else. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
©2020 Weather Forecaster Sarah Cobern
To learn more about weather safety, visit https://www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/weather-safety-educational-topics
Discussion: Winter is still hanging on strong in parts of Upstate New York. Lake Effect Snow has been locked in on areas east of Lake Ontario, allowing for accumulations of snow in the feet range. For many across the Tug Hill Plateau, this is a common theme during the winter due to the unique topography of the region. The Tug Hill Plateau is a region of upland terrain located across portions of Oswego, Lewis, Jefferson, and Oneida counties in Upstate New York. This area is east of Lake Ontario making it a prime location for that heavy snowfall. Meteorologists forecast that 3-4 feet of snow could accumulate when the snow is done falling.
With these high amounts of snow falling, it’s important to know what the various watches and warnings mean. A winter storm warning is issued when snowfall of at least 6 inches is forecasted in twelve hours or 8 inches is forecasted in 24 hours. For a blizzard warning to be issued, visibility has to be lower than 1/4th of a mile due to blowing or falling snow with sustained winds or wind gusts of 35 mph for at least three hours. These are dangerous weather conditions that will make driving very unsafe, due to whiteout conditions and visibilities near zero. Winter storm warnings and blizzard warnings are currently in effect.
With heavy snow expected and falling, be prepared with the essentials at home and in your car! Most local agencies will strongly advise against traveling in these conditions, but if you must please have a safety kit in your car and have supplies in your cupboards or pantry. Make sure to have any medications on hand you might need in case you cannot leave your home during the storm or if you’re snowed in afterward. If you can do so safely, check on your elderly neighbors or anyone who might be at risk during these types of events! Follow your local National Weather Service and local meteorologists for up to date, real-time information!
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©2020 Meteorologist Shannon Scully
It is the dead of winter right now. Trees are bare, temperatures are cold, and some parts of the country are covered in snow – or just old, grey slush. You might be wondering – why am I reading an article about heat? Well, as plans for summer activities and vacations begin to take shape in the coming weeks and months, it is important to keep in mind that hot summer temperatures can have negative effects on your health.
Many people are very active during the summer, taking advantage of warmer, sunnier days. Perhaps you’re a runner, a biker, or a hiker. Maybe you like to get together with friends to play soccer or volleyball or basketball after work. Children especially love to spend their time free from school in the great outdoors, from playing on the playground to attending sports training camps. Increased body temperatures from outdoor activities, on top of baseline, hot summer temperatures, provide an increased risk for heat-related illness.
However, even those who prefer to spend their summer perched in a beach chair are not immune to such illnesses. If you are outside, you should be alert for heat stress and heat stroke symptoms in yourself and others. Beaches can be particularly hazardous as sun reflects off of hot sand and shade is limited. Additionally, air conditioning may be a few blocks’ walk away to your hotel or beach house. Baseball games, too, can have you roasting in the sun for hours on end, much like those peanuts you’re probably eating.
Alright – how can you prevent heat-related illness? One of the best precautions to take is to drink plenty of water. Water breaks should be a staple in all outdoor athletic endeavors, from morning runs to after-work games to week-long elite sports camps. A water bottle should be the hottest accessory every beach season. One way to remember to take water breaks is to make a playlist for the day with a designated “water song” added multiple times, preferably once for every 15-20 songs. Every time this song plays, everyone must stop what they’re doing and hydrate.
Shade is another key tool in fighting heat illness. From tailgate tents to beach umbrellas, there are many options for making your own shade when no natural shade is readily available.
A final way to avoid heat illnesses is to take indoor, air-conditioned breaks when spending an entire day outside. Going back to a beach house or to a nearby restaurant for lunch when spending a day at the shore is a great way to break up the day. The same thing applies for outdoor sports camps. Overall, lunch breaks indoors are ideal because heat is often most intense in the early afternoon hours when the sun is directly overhead. Lunch is a great time to escape peak heat.
Signs of heat stress and heat stroke are included in the above image. Know them so that you can spot them in yourself and your friends, and seek help when necessary!
©2020 Meteorologist Margaret Orr
(Image from www.weather.gov)
For more information on how to prepare for dangerous weather, visit https://www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/weather-safety-educational-topics
DISCUSSION: There is no question that as the 2019 – 2020 winter season continues to move forward from late December and on into early January, millions of people spread across coastal sections of the Northeast U.S. will be wondering when and if there will or will not be a “true Winter.” However, it goes without saying that year in and year out there are always many questions from people all over the world regarding whether a given Winter season will be at least partly consumed by snowy and colder conditions.
Often, meteorologists from across the operational and private sector will respectfully do their very best to answer such questions in an appropriate and an accurate fashion despite any and all criticism they expect to receive. Nonetheless, whether it is for energy trading companies, domestic and/or global travel concerns, this can be a challenging question to correctly answer for several reasons. And, it is quite important to understand a little bit about some of the reasons for why this task can be so challenging.
First, it is important to understand that during any given winter season there are several climatological patterns effect large-scale atmospheric flow regimes. More specifically, a few prime examples include the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) as well as the Arctic Oscillation (AO) are two major players with respect to global climate variability that affect the likelihood of there being or not being a storm track as well as longer duration temperature trends which are more favorable for winter storm development. The ENSO will have an influence on larger scale atmospheric flow regimes since whether there are warmer or cooler sea surface temperatures across the central to Eastern Pacific Ocean basin will be a direct link to the frequency of more ridge or trough dominated patterns across North America. Whenever there are more ridge-dominant atmospheric flow regimes in place across western to central portions of the United States, this can often be unfavorable for winter storm development along the U.S. East Coast. However, it is important to note that depending upon the latitudinal position of a given ridge or trough, this can allow or not allow colder air filter in towards higher calculated regions of the northeastern U.S. which under the right conditions can set the stage for winter storm potential. And, the AO is often the factor which will predominantly control whether or not colder air masses are unleashed on the contiguous United States based on the strength of the low-pressure system(s) in place at the time. The key reason for this is because whenever there is a winter storm threat, the most critical factor is the presence of a deep cold air mass in the general area where the corresponding low-pressure is expected to develop. This is a critical factor since without cold air, there will not be sufficient support for snowfall development over a long enough period.
Thus, as far as the next few to several weeks are concerned during the 2019 to 2020 winter season, it goes without saying that although the current larger scale setup is not favorable for winter storm potential, this can and could potentially change rather quickly over the next few weeks. This is simply because the atmosphere is always in a state of gradual or more rapid transition and that any given Intraseasonal pattern is never locked in place for more than a week or two (generally speaking) with some very common exceptions to this rule. The most common winter storm potential indicated that is looked for during a given winter season with respect to the U.S. East Coast is the presence of a blocking high pressure system over Greenland as well as persistent trough development across the central U.S. the reason for this is because more persistent trough development (i.e., to the north of the Gulf of Mexico) as well as the presence of persistent deep cold air can set the stage for winter storm threats in such (or comparably similar scenarios). Therefore, even though the current and upcoming larger scale atmospheric flow regime is more than likely going to remain unfavorable for winter storm development, the 2019 to 2020 winter season is just getting started and let us also remember that the climatological peak for winter storm development along the US East Coast is during the month of February.
So, before going ahead and writing off anything just yet, it is important to keep some of these helpful winter weather tidbits in mind as time moves along.
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©2019 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
As this Fall season is wrapping up, and Winter starts for many across the country, the threat for avalanches in states like Colorado increases. For those that experience them yearly, avalanches are scary, but an average part of life in the Winter months within this region and are to be expected. When planning a ski trip, having a game plan on what to do in an avalanche, especially for those not acclimated to the area or with skiing, is a necessity. In fact, having an avalanche game plan for Colorado is just as important as having a tornado-safety game plan for the Midwesterners and Southerners. So, what is an avalanche and what does one do when it happens?
An avalanche occurs most commonly in the Winter and is when a mass of snow, ice, and rock fall down a mountainside. Because they are unpredictable in occurring and how intense they can get, they are rather dangerous. Many variables can be the culprit of causing these nasty events, such as snowpack, weather conditions, or even the terrain. The three ingredients to avalanches are a surface bed of snow, an unstable layer of snow in the middle, and a snow slab overlaying the top. They can travel as fast as 100 miles per hour, so if a person tries to outrun one, they will not be successful. The most dangerous type of avalanche is when a large chunk of snow and ice becomes disheveled and tumbles down the mountain side; this type is typically the fastest and deadliest to be caught in.
There are three key zones in an avalanche, the starting zone, the avalanche track, and the runout zone. The starting zone is the area where the avalanche begins, typically higher on the slope. As it continues to flow down the mountain side from this point, it becomes the avalanche track and as it stops near the bottom of the slope, the pile of debris left behind is the runout zone.
The way to survive an avalanche if skiing or snowboarding is to ski/snowboard down at a 45° angle to avoid getting caught in it. If not skiing or snowboarding, or if one can’t get out of the way in time, reach and grab for trees and hold on tight. If there are no trees in sight, swim through the snow and stick one arm directly up because as the avalanche intensifies and gets to a settling point at the end of the mountain, it will condense like concrete and there will be no way to make any sort of movement. There are gadgets now that can send one’s coordinates constantly to other members of their group if they happen to be stuck in an avalanche so being located is much more probable. There are also dogs that rescue teams will use that are trained to sniff out anyone in avalanches if there is believed to have been someone that was caught up in it.
Avalanches are scary and can be very dangerous, but with knowledge and a game plan, they can be conquerable. They are similar to mudslides, but more deadly due to the amount of ice and snowpack that can occur in them. Whenever planning a trip to Colorado, make sure to stay on the slopes and avoid back country skiing unless one is a professional or an expert as to avoid any possibility of creating a man-made avalanche and never being found.
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©2019 Meteorologist Ashley Lennard
There are a number of hazards associated with snowstorms. Trees may fall down and take power lines with them. Roads and sidewalks may become slick and icy. Air travel may be halted, and of course – you may need to shovel your sidewalk. Although this is mostly considered a mundane, if bothersome and annoying chore, it can pose a very real health threat to some people.
Snow can be heavy, even if it’s just the powdery, “dry” snow. Wet snow is even heavier and more cumbersome to shovel. As many people know, shoveling snow is exhausting, especially wet snow. This overexertion, especially in the cold, is dangerous for the elderly and those living with cardiac conditions. The quick transition from sitting on the couch watching Christmas movies with a cup of hot cocoa to shoveling tens or even hundreds of pounds of snow can put a major strain on one’s heart. Cold weather can increase heart rate, increase blood pressure, and make blood more likely to clot – the main cause of a heart attack.
There are a few ways to keep your heart health in mind when faced with the task of shoveling snow. First, try warming up a little bit before starting to shovel. Not only does this prepare your body for the strain of shoveling, it might help get your muscles ready and alleviate aches and pains later. You could also fill your shovel a little bit less/more often, as opposed to shoveling fewer and heavier snow loads. Do you live on a street with an elderly person? Offer to take care of their driveway and sidewalk for them! Are you an elderly person? Offer a local teenager or college student home for break some money to shovel your sidewalk and driveway! More tips can be found at this link: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/protect-your-heart-when-shoveling-snow-201101151153
©2019 Meteorologist Margaret Orr