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Winter Storms/Ice Storms

Arkansas is affected by severe winter storms nearly every year. Severe winter storms can have a tremendous impact on individuals, animals, and communities. Winter storms can last for days. Accumulations of snow and ice can result in road closures or blockages – isolating homes and farms for days. Roofs may collapse due to the heavy weight burden, and knock trees and power lines down resulting in power outages and subsequent loss of heat. Dangerous driving conditions can lead to travelers being stranded on the road. Ice storms have been most common in the central part and northwest corner of Arkansas.

A winter storm has the potential for immobilizing the campus and preventing commuters from both getting to and leaving the campus.

Key Points:

  • Severe winter weather can include extreme cold, heavy snowfall, ice storms, winter storms and/or strong winds.
  • Winter storms may spawn other hazards such as flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and extreme winds that may hamper recovery efforts.
  • The occurrence of severe winter weather has a substantial impact on communities, utilities, transportation systems, and agriculture, and often results in loss of life due to accidents or hypothermia.
  • Heavy snow from a snowstorm can immobilize a region and paralyze a city, stranding commuters, stopping the flow of supplies, and disrupting emergency and medical services.
  • Accumulations of snow can collapse buildings and knock down trees and power lines.
  • In rural areas, homes, farms, and businesses may be isolated for days and unprotected livestock may be lost.
  • Heavy accumulations of ice from ice storms can bring down trees, electrical wires, telephone poles and lines, and communication towers.
  • Communications and power can be disrupted for days while utility companies work to repair the damage.
  • The monetary costs of power and communications losses to the university could be significant.
  • Accumulations of ice and snow may also cause extreme hazards to motorists.
  • Travel is hampered by ice or heavy snow because the University, city, county, and state lack sufficient sow removal equipment and road treatments (sand, salt).
  • Costs related to business and school closings that occur due to hazardous travel conditions are difficult to estimate.
  • Pipes may freeze and rupture in buildings that are poorly insulated or without heat.

Watches and Warnings

 Winter Storm Watch – A winter storm watch is issued when there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice accumulations, usually at least 24 to 36 hours in advance.

Winter Weather Advisory – A winter weather advisory is issued when a low pressure system produces a combination of winter weather (snow, freezing rain, sleet, etc.) that present a hazard, but does not meet warning criteria.

Winter Storm Warning – A winter storm warning indicates when a winter storm is producing or is forecast to produce heavy snow or significant ice accumulations.

Take Action

 Before the Storm

  •  Stay Informed. Listen to the radio or television for latest weather information.
  • Download and monitor a weather app on your smart phone.

During the Storm

  • Stay safe, warm, dry and calm.
  • Do not drive unnecessarily. Of deaths related to ice and snow, 70 percent occur when people are stranded in cars or involved in accidents. If you must drive, bring necessary supplies.
  • Dress warm enough to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Do not go outside if you don’t have to.

If you are stranded in a vehicle:

  • In extreme cold or in heavy snow, stay with your car until you can be rescued. Do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation.
  • Keep at least one window open slightly. Heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut. It also allows in fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked, which would cause dangerous fumes to back-up inside the car. Run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank.
  • Make yourself visible to rescuers. To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna. Tie a bright cloth to you antenna or door to alert rescuers.
  • Turn on your dome light, at night, when running the engine.
  • Raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
  • Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
  • To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the woolen items and blankets to keep warm.
  • Eat a hard candy to keep your mouth moist.

Winter Driving Safety

  • Clear:  Remove any snow on your vehicle’s windows, lights, brake lights and signals.
  • Inspect:  Check your vehicle’s tires, wiper blades, fluids, lights, belts and hoses.
  • Time:  Allow plenty of time to reach your destination safely.
  • Limited Visibility: Stay attentive and reduce speed.  Know what’s going on around you.
  • Speed:  The faster you’re going, the longer it will take to stop; take it slow to avoid slipping or sliding.
  • Ice and Snow, Take it Slow.
  • Black Ice:  You cannot see black ice on the road. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges or shady areas.
  • Distance:  Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Brake:  Brake early, brake slowly, brake correctly and never slam on the brakes.

Winter Heating Safety

Fires and carbon monoxide (CO) poisonings significantly increase in the winter months because of improper use of heating devices. Students that live on campus should be aware that no portable heating devices are allowed in any of the residence facilities. The University also has an Open Flame Policy that prohibits the use of any open flame devices, including candles. The University’s Physical Plant provides heat to all buildings on campus and the use of space heaters is not recommended (safety and sustainability). For the thousands of off-campus students, faculty, staff, the following are some basic heating safety recommendations:

  • Keep anything that can burn and kids at least three-feet away from heating equipment sources.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
  • Install and maintain CO alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning.

 Severe Weather Alerts at UCA

The UCAAlert system will alert the entire campus community of inclement weather closures and changes in hours of operations via text, voice, and email messages.  Additionally, messages will be posted on Facebook and Twitter.