Winter looks very different depending on whether you’re above or below the Mason-Dixon Line. Below that imaginary line, which runs along on the northern edges of West Virginia and Maryland, winter weather might mean highs in the 50s and snow on rare occasions. Above, you’re talking about black ice, gusting winds, inches upon inches of snow, and road and school closures (particularly for those living in mountainous regions or along the Snowbelt of the Great Lakes). If you’re not used to it, your first real winter can be disconcerting. How do you prepare? Do you need an ice scraper (and what does it look like)? How are snow boots different from regular winter boots?
A common misconception is that our recent spate of record-breaking winters runs counter to a global “warming” crisis. Others believe the crisis only makes warm summers hotter. The full picture, however, is that global warming makes both ends of the weather spectrum more extreme, and that means even harsher winters. Take this past winter, for example, when Arctic air blew across the country in a highly publicized Polar Vortex.
Whether you believe in the science behind the impending brutal winter season or wish to ignore the cold while you still can during the fall months, we’re guessing you’d still rather be prepared head-to-toe far ahead of time. When the next morning of waking up to another “record low” or “record snowfall” arrives, it’ll be better if you’re stocked up on proper insulation, snow gear, warm socks—and your favorite canned soup.
We know preparing for extreme winter weather can seem overwhelming. That’s why Stacker compiled the following recommendations from the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other government organizations, in addition to meteorologists and experts. Follow these 30 steps and you’ll be prepared for anything the weather throws at you: freezing rain, sleet, snow, even full-on blizzard conditions. Once you have a good pair of gloves, snow tires, and an emergency plan, the weather report doesn’t seem so dreadful after all.