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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

September 29, 2020

Time to Prep for Winter? You Bet, Says K-State Climatologist

Submitted by Pat Melgares

It’s early October…do you know where your snow boots are?

You may not really need them for a while, but assistant state climatologist Mary Knapp says now is about the right time to start preparing for winter.

“A couple things you can do right now to get ready for winter is to look at preparations around your house and car,” said Knapp, who has worked for Kansas State University for more than three decades.

Listen to an interview by Jeff Wichman with Mary Knapp on the radio program, Sound Living.

Around the house, she said, the work begins outside by cleaning up damaged branches from summer storms, particularly anything hanging over power lines or the home’s roof. “That’s important because if we get strong winds or an ice storm, you have less chance that it’s going to take down your power,” she said.

“Another thing is to look at disconnecting your hose and covering outside faucets so they don’t freeze and break. And a third thing is to cover your air conditioner, or remove window air conditioners. You won’t likely need that during the winter months and you don’t want to create a portal for cold air to get into the house.”

Knapp also suggests covering windows or screens, or any area where cold air can seep into the home.

“With your automobiles, make sure they are in good maintenance shape,” Knapp said. “Check the tread on tires, top off fluids, switch windshield fluid from bug removal to something more tolerant of cold temperatures, and check antifreeze levels so that you have enough for colder conditions.”

Other maintenance have-tos include checking that the car’s battery is holding a strong charge, replacing windshield wipers and building a winter weather emergency kit.

According to Knapp, the essentials in an emergency kit include:

Flashlight and batteries.
First Aid kit.
Boots or waterproof shoes.

“You should also have water,” she said. “But what I would recommend is that you take that out to the car when you’re getting ready to travel, rather than storing it in the car, because if we get into the cold weather that we typically have during the winter, you’re going to end up with a frozen bottle of water which isn’t going to help you much if you’re stalled because of a traffic delay, snow storms or anything else.”

In addition, check to be sure that you have a good ice scraper, snow brush and jumper cables. Road flares and tire chains can also be useful.

“When you’re traveling out of town, one of the first things to do is check what the weather outlook is along your route… and anticipate what kind of conditions you might encounter,” Knapp said. “Also let somebody know when you’re going, what route you’re taking and what time you’re planning to arrive. You may not be able to get a cell signal wherever you are stranded, so it’s important to have that backup in place before you get on the road.”

More information on weather conditions, forecasts and other weather-related data in Kansas is available online from Kansas Mesonet.