Wintertime poses a wide range of threats to the American public. Whether it be exposure to the cold, vehicle accidents caused by slick roads, or fires resulting from the improper use of heaters, hundreds of people are injured or killed each year as a direct result of winter weather.
Winter storms range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a massive blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Some winter storms are large enough to affect several states while others affect only a single community.
High winds, freezing rain or sleet, heavy snowfall, and dangerously cold temperatures are the main hazards associated with winter storms. Impassable snow drifts often maroon people at home without utilities or other services for days after an event. Heavy snowfall and blizzards easily trap motorists in their vehicles and make walking to find help a deadly effort. Severely cold temperatures and wind chills during and after a winter storm can lead to hypothermia and kill anyone caught outside for too long. The aftermath of a winter storm can impact a community or region for days, weeks or even months, incurring steep economic costs.