Although winter just began a little over a month ago, the winter of 2009-2010 has been challenging. Wave after wave of frigid air and snowy weather has seemed to dominate the weather patterns over much of the area.
Bill McMillan, chief forecaster for Mountain City Weather Center, believes, “This is the worst winter we’ve had since 1995-1996.” McMillan became infatuated with weather when the Blizzard of 1993 hit much of the eastern United States. He was 10 years old at the time.
McMillan created Mountain City Weather Center in 2003. Along with Brandon Massey, Joe Reedy and Josh Burleson, they work tirelessly following weather patterns to bring accurate weather forecasts to Johnson County. “Weather is my passion,” said McMillan.
The dedicated crew at Mountain City Weather Center have been exceptionally busy this winter season. According to McMillan, a fading and weakened El Nino has helped to lock in colder and stormier weather into the eastern third of the United States. He believes the second half of the winter is going to continue to be cold and snowy. This pattern will likely continue through March and possibly into April. A frigid air pattern will dominant our region in mid-February. “This is an amazing weather pattern we are in,” McMillan said. He believes that this trend of colder winter weather could continue for the next 10 to 20 years. He likened this trend to the winters experienced during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Even before the first snowflake fell upon our region, Mountain City Weather Center had forecast 55 inches of snow for Mountain City for this winter season. Snowfall amounts notoriously vary throughout the county due to upslope regions, making precise accumulation figures impossible, but the winter is well ahead of schedule to usual January numbers.
With promises of a continuing cold and wet winter, preparation is essential. Make sure your vehicle(s) are in good working order. Check the tread on your tires to make sure they do not need replacing. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), you should keep an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes a shovel, scraper, flashlight, water, snacks, matches, battery-powered radio, blankets, first-aid kit, tow chain or rope, booster cables, emergency flares and a fluorescent distress flag. FEMA also suggests keeping extra hats, gloves and even socks that could be essential in helping to keep you warm if you become stranded. Kitty litter or sand can help improve traction for your vehicle if needed. Keep your cell phone fully charged at all time.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this week’s The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!