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Winter is here, be prepared for its wrath

snow resting on gazebo on parade grounds, with cannon in the foreground

Snow rests on gazebo on the parade grounds, March 25, 2011, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Winter storms vary greatly and cause light to moderate snow, blizzard conditions, sleet and ice, and dangerously cold temperatures. (U.S. Air Force photo by D.P. Heard)

snow covered tree branch in the foreground and gazebo in background at Offutt parade grounds

Snow rests on a tree branch on the parade grounds at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, March 25, 2011. The 2019/2020 winter here has been mild so far, however, it is important to be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by D.P. Heard)

Offutt parade grounds, covered in snow, with cannon in foreground and gazebo in distant background

Snow rests on the parade grounds March 25, 2011, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Be prepared for extreme weather conditions with an emergency kit containing items including additional warm clothing, blankets, mittens and gloves, extra socks, a flashlight, a candle and matches, non-perishable food, water, a shovel, and salt, sand or cat litter which can help melt snow or add enough traction to get moving again when stuck in the snow. (U.S. Air Force photo by D.P. Heard)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

Winter is here and often in Nebraska it can be unpredictable, with frigid weather conditions crippling an entire region.

Nebraska storms vary greatly depending on wind, temperature and precipitation, and are capable of causing light to moderate snow, blizzard conditions, sleet and ice and dangerously cold temperatures.

While the mission accomplishment is always at the forefront of operations on base, the safety of Team Offutt and their families is the base’s number one priority.

So far, Nebraska’s winter has been warmer than usual, but personnel should still prepare themselves and their families for the hazards of cold, snow and ice, which is sure to come.

Test Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas given off by gas furnaces, cars, charcoal grills, propane stoves and portable generators and can be fatal in high concentrations. To combat this risk regularly test household carbon monoxide detectors and ensure batteries have an adequate charge.

Icy roads can be tough to spot: Watch the temperature and road conditions and carefully weigh the risks before setting out on potentially dangerous roads. In the case of icy roads, regardless of the type of vehicle, drivers should slow down, leave a greater following distance than normal, be prepared for sudden stops and leave more time for you commute. Icy roads paired with high winds, which are common in the Midwest, and low visibility from snow can be especially dangerous.

Prepare Winter Emergency Kits: Prepare with a robust vehicle survival kit. It may make being stuck outside in the snow less dangerous. Items which may be useful include additional warm clothing, blankets, mittens and gloves, extra socks, a flashlight, a candle and matches, non-perishable food, water, a shovel, and salt, sand or cat litter which can help melt snow or add enough traction to get moving again when stuck in the snow.

Severe winter storms can also freeze pipes and cause power outages making being prepared at home just as important. A battery or crank powered radio, supply of water, non-perishable ready to eat food.

It is also important to understand the windchill index. (https://www.weather.gov/oun/safety-winter-windchill)

When weather becomes extreme, base personnel may experience early release, delayed reporting or designated personnel reporting.

Know Base Reporting Procedures: Service members and civilians should follow the base operating procedures for their reporting status of mission-essential or non-mission-essential during times of inclement weather. If unsure what to do ask your supervisor.

Learn where to find information on Offutt weather conditions and responses: Ensure you have updated you AtHoc notification information. Check the Offutt Facebook page or Offutt Weather Twitter page. The Twitter page that you send you a text when information is put out about base delay’s or closures due to weather. To sign up, you must have a Twitter account with an attached phone number and send a text 40404 with “Follow Offutt_Weather” in the message.

Snow and Information Line: The 55th Wing Public Affairs office will send the information to the local media for the local news to get out to the community. Lastly is the Snow and Information line at 232-COLD, this information is updated as quickly as possible but the information is sometimes more difficult to get up due to the lack of available phone lines to the system.

For more information about Offutt’s snow and information procedures visit here. (http://www.offutt.af.mil/Home/InclementWeather.aspx)