Farmers’ Almanac releases 2014 winter outlook for Midwest


By Kaitlyn Vickers, Contributor

Nebraskans thought they had already encountered some of the harshest winters around, but mother nature is here to prove that she is not finished yet. In May 2013, Nebraskans acquired 3.1 inches of snow, which is the snowiest that month has ever been for us. In 2011, the lowest temperature recorded was -5 F and 2010, it was -20 F.
The Farmers’ Almanac expects this upcoming winter to be one of the coldest yet. They expect the coldest areas to span from the north-east plains to the Great Lakes. Nebraska is a little off that area, but still close enough that it will be hit with s severely low temperatures.
The precipitation for the Midwest will be above normal conditions, while the rest of the country will stick with close to normal amounts. So, with the very cold temperatures and above normal precipitation, Omaha will be getting a lot of snow this year. It may not seem like it yet, but the snow is expected to come around the end of September or the beginning of October.
Experts are recommending everyone prepares for this winter. Now is the time we should all get ready for this gruesome winter. It is recommended to keep flashlights, water, non-perishable food, sand for tire traction and of course, lots of blankets in the trunk of your vehicle in case it happens to break down or another emergency occurs.
It is also essential that you and your family or roommates have a communication plan. This would be in case something happens to another person, there is a disaster or anything else occurs so you know how to get a hold of everybody in the easiest and most efficient way possible.
You can also sign up for free smartphone apps from FEMA and the American Red Cross which will send updates and provide information on finding shelter, providing first aid and getting assistance for recovery.
Even with a survival kit in your car, it is best to minimize any and all travel. Another important thing many people forget about is their pets. Do not leave them outside for prolonged periods of time during this harsh winter.
To fully “winterize” your car you should check antifreeze levels, brakes, battery and ignition system, exhaust system, fuel and air filters, heater and defroster, lights and hazards, oil, thermostat, windshield wipers and put on good winter tires. A full emergency vehicle kit should include a shovel, a windshield scraper, flashlight, battery powered radio, batteries, water, snack food, matches, extra winter clothes, first aid kit with a pocket knife, medications if needed, blankets, tow chain or rope, road salt and sand, booster cables, emergency flares and a fluorescent distress flag.
“Winterizing” your home may be more difficult in some aspects but it still deserves to be shared. Clean rain gutters, fix leaks, remove branches that could fall on the home during a storm, have heat and chimneys inspected yearly, insulate pipes and let sinks trickle in cold weather to prevent pipes from freezing, keep a fire extinguisher on hand and know how it works and know how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
With winter quickly approaching, Nebraskans can only hope that this winter won’t be as bad as it is predicted