With overnight lows Tuesday expected to be below freezing, Grayson County commissioners announced the rather obvious fact on Tuesday morning that winter probably isn’t far away. Just knowing something is coming, however, doesn’t make you prepared, and county officials said preparedness is the function behind designating Wednesday as Winter Awareness Day.

With overnight lows Tuesday expected to be below freezing, Grayson County commissioners announced the rather obvious fact on Tuesday morning that winter probably isn’t far away. Just knowing something is coming, however, doesn’t make you prepared, and county officials said preparedness is the function behind designating Wednesday as Winter Awareness Day.


"We all know winter weather is coming and the potential for severe winter weather is more than possible for Grayson County. … Don’t be caught off guard: prepare now," said Grayson County Office of Emergency Management Director Sarah Somers.


While some areas have to routinely prepare for large snowfall, North Texas and Southern Oklahoma are most often hit in the winter by ice storms like the one that shut down the area in 2011.


"In 2011, you will recall that as the time period in February when the Superbowl was being held in Arlington, the electric outages we experienced caused a level of panic in our community unmatched by any other disasters — including the 2007 flood events and multiple tornado events," Somers said. She added that, as people become more and more reliant on items that rely on electrical power, including health care devices, the need to know how to get by without them in the case of an emergency also increases.


"In Grayson County, we should all be prepared for a winter weather event that leaves us with power, without water, without communications, without heat and without the ability to travel – for multiple days," Somers said. She added that the County wants people to use the day to take stock of their emergency preparedness kits or get one together if they don’t have one.


She said such kits for winter should include rock salt, to melt ice on walkways; sand, to improve traction; and adequate clothing and blankets, to keep the family warm in case the heat goes out for an extended period of time.


For more a more detailed checklist of items for an emergency supply kit, see the link below.


Somers said it is important that people be familiar with winter weather terminology. "Do you know the difference between a freezing rain and sleet, between winter weather advisory and a winter storm warning?"


According to the Texas A&M University website: "Freezing rain is rain that is supercooled and will usually freeze when it comes into contact with other surfaces, such as cars. … Sleet is made of frozen rain and forms in advance of a warm front and is often sandwiched between an area of snow and freezing rain."


As for advisories and warnings, the National Weather Service, which issues these notices, says a winter weather advisory is "issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet which will cause significant inconveniences and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to life-threatening situations."


A winter storm warning is "issued when hazardous winter weather, in the form of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain or heavy sleet, is imminent or occurring. Winter storm warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin."


Somers said the storm in 2011 helped the County make partnerships with organizations like Meals On Wheels to insure that elderly residents don’t go without food because the roads are slick. And the OEM looks forward to helping even more people get prepared.


"Any resident, business owner or school who would like to coordinate with us or receive help with a winter weather or other emergency management presentation or plan may contact us at any time," Somers said


For more information on building an emergency kit, visit http://www.texasprepares.org.