Severe Winter Storm​

Severe winter storms can cause widespread damage and disruption.  Heavy snow often results in paralyzed transportation systems, automobile accidents due to slippery roads and stranded vehicles.  When accompanied by intense winds and extreme cold, snow can isolate entire communities.  Bitter cold and severe winter storms kill more than 100 people in Canada every year.  That is more than the number of Canadians killed by tornadoes, thunderstorms, lightning, floods, hurricanes and heat waves combined.

Ice storms are often winter’s worst hazard. The severity of ice storms depends on the accumulation of ice, the duration of the event, the location and extent of the area affected.

During a blizzard, piercing winds blow snow into drifts that can bury people, animals and possessions.  The snow loads can also cause the collapse of structures. In the later stages of a blizzard whiteout conditions can be formed.

 During a whiteout the snowfall is so dense that it is hard to tell the earth from the sky.

If you are indoors:

  • Stay indoors.  Only travel when absolutely necessary.
  • When going outside, ensure that you have proper clothing to protect you from the elements.  A heavy coat, gloves, boots and a hat are a must.
  • It is easier to keep a smaller space warm.  During an ice storm, some families closed off most rooms in their home and managed to keep quite warm.
  • Listen for radio and television broadcasts of storm warnings.

If you are outdoors:

  • If you have to go outdoors, prepare yourself against the cold and find shelter as soon as possible.
  • Several lightweight layers give more warmth than a single heavy coat.  Try thermal underwear, a turtleneck, a medium sweater, and a jacket.
  • Wear a hat to prevent heat loss, gloves and hiking or snow boots.  Cover your mouth to protect your lungs. 
  • Always tell someone where you are going, how you are getting there and when you think you will arrive. This way, someone will know where you might be if you are stranded.

If you are in a vehicle:

  • Travel can be dangerous during a severe storm.
  • If you hear news of a blizzard warning, find shelter as soon as possible.
  • If you are stuck in your car, stay with the vehicle.
  • Provide a signal to rescuers such as a bright cloth tied onto the vehicle.
  • Keep the window open a crack for fresh air.
  • Stay warm by moving your arms and legs, keeping the blood flowing.
  • Start the car engine once every hour, and use the heater for ten minutes.
  • When the engine is running, leave the dome light on.
  • Keep the exhaust pipe clear so that fumes can escape.
  • Always tell someone where you are going, how you are getting there and when you think you will arrive.