Winter Storms

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Winter Along The Gulf Coast & Southeast

This region is generally unaccustomed to snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. Once in a while, cold air penetrates south across Texas and Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. Temperatures fall below freezing, killing tender vegetation such as flowering plants and the citrus fruit crop. Wet snow and ice rapidly accumulate on trees with leaves, causing the branches to snap under the load. 

Motorists are generally unaccustomed to driving on slick roads and traffic accidents increase. Some buildings are poorly insulated or lack heat altogether. Local municipalities may not have available snow removal equipment or treatments, such as sand or salt, for icy roads.

What Makes a Winter Storm?

  • Cold air: Below-freezing temperatures in the clouds and near the ground are necessary to make snow and/or ice.
  • Moisture: To form clouds and precipitation. Air blowing across a body of water, such as a large lake or the ocean, is an excellent source of moisture.
  • Lift: Something to raise the moist air to form the clouds and cause precipitation. An example of lift is warm air colliding with cold air and being forced to rise over the cold dome. The boundary between the warm and cold air masses is called a front. Another example of lift is air flowing up a mountain side.

Winter-Related Deaths

Winter storms are considered deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. For instance, people can die in traffic accidents on icy roads or die of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. Everyone is potentially at risk during winter storms. The actual threat to you depends on your specific situation. Recent observations indicate the following about weather-related deaths:

  • Related to ice and snow
    • About 70% occur in automobiles
    • About 25% are people caught out in the storm
  • Related to exposure to cold
    • 50% are people more than 60 years old
    • Over 75% are males
    • About 20% occur in the home