Southern California is hardly accustomed to winter storms that resemble a scene one would experience in states such as Minnesota. However, ours is on its way. With temperatures dropping significantly in combination with gusty winds ranging from 30 to 50 miles per hour, with a potential to gain strength, the combo packs a two-in-one punch in weather conditions most of us have not experienced in years, if at all. Temperatures will approach freezing levels, giving way to snow in low elevations. Thus far, reports have been 2,000 feet to 1,500 feet and below; however, the snow we will see is still in question as we have to keep a watchful eye on the levels of rain we are expected to have as well. Various weather services have been reporting a few different outlines regarding this storm, yet the differences are hardly broad; minuscule differences in predictions all lead to the same result.
As we brace for the "Coldest Storm of Winter," which has now escalated to a "Blizzard Warning" this week, the preparations should begin immediately, as the storm is forecasted to last throughout the week. Southern California has experienced unusually "cold" weather for our mindsets. We throw on warmer clothing and heavy jackets and go about our every day waiting for the cold out. Unfortunately, this storm will be far from the norm, and preparedness is vital. While most within our region may have a pretty nonchalant attitude towards the present reports of the upcoming week, more severe thinking maybe something to consider. In fact. as a native Southern Californian, this journalist doesn't remember ever experiencing a "Blizzard Warning."
These temperatures will have a heavy impact on those most vulnerable such as the elderly and small children, as well as animals, vegetation, and overall safety. Hypothermia, a severe medical condition in which a person's body temperature falls below the usual level, can be life-threatening and should not be taken lightly. In addition, this storm will impact driving conditions as wet and icy roads accumulate, with wind gusts strong enough to capsize a sea-bearing vessel.
Although the Inland Empire may not feel the impact of this storm as strongly as other parts of Southern California at higher elevations, the forecast is set for freezing temperatures no matter where you live. Given snow levels are forecasted at such low elevations, preparedness should include several considerations, given Southern California does not have much experience in these potentially dangerous conditions.
Power Outages may occur, so keep cell phones charged and flashlights at arm's length.
Avoid flooded areas, as the waters may be higher than the eye can see.
Cover outdoor plants or bring them inside if possible.
Bring pets inside to ensure they do not experience hypothermia. We may think our pet's fur is enough to keep them warm; however, bringing them inside will ensure their safety in these forecasted conditions.
Avoid driving if at all possible, or drive the least amount of distance needed.
Remove any outside furniture to a place where it will not have the possibility of being swept up by high winds causing a danger to neighbors or streets. If any fencing is unstable, you may consider boarding it in a safer condition.
Keep your body temperature warm; extra blankets and layered clothing can help keep the cold system from impacting you during the night.
Southern California, we have all experienced the forecast that never happened. However, this forecast should be taken very seriously, and we must care for ourselves and our loved ones.
Brace yourself. This two-in-one punch with winds and freezing temperatures is potentially becoming one of the record books for Southern Californians.
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