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Friday, January 28, 2022

Blizzard will hit Charlestown tonight

BLIZZARD warning extends from midnight tonight to tomorrow night
Charlestown forecast: 12-18 inches
It's only 1 PM and the snow has already started to fall 
By Will Collette

Check out the NOAA/NWS winter storm tracker - CLICK HERE.

The National Weather Service has substantially upgraded its storm forecast for Rhode Island to a "Blizzard Warning" as the storm gets closer.  The National Weather Service webpage for Charlestown calls for snow to start after midnight tonight and continue for about 24 hours. It will be cold and very windy with gusts up to 55mph in the forecast. That increases the likelihood of power outages.

As the hours move by, that forecast may change - I plan to update this post at least once before showtime. And again, I include our collection of best tips for snow survival that starts right after the forecast information.

The National Weather Service has an interesting weather forecasting tool that offers their best calculation of probability. It gives you a different take than the conventional town forecast webpage. See the graphic, above, or CLICK HERE

The Tracker lets you dive deeper to see the odds the NWS puts on various snow totals. They put the odds 60% that Charlestown will get 12" or more, 31-33% that we get 18" or more. 

Whatever. We'll find out tomorrow. 

Here's a screen shot of the latest standard NWS forecast. It differs slightly from the projections in the NWS winter storm tracker most likely due to the difference in when the forecasts were published.

The forecast range on this new Weather Service tool shows the lowest possible snowfall for Charlestown at 5.2 inches and the highest (10% odds) at 23.9 inches. 

11 AM forecast from the NWS: 

To do our bit to help, I am reprinting our collection of things to do and not do to get through the storm safely.

You can read this before or after you rush to the Stop & Shop to load up on milk, white bread and Pampers, but please do read it. In a so-called "Bomb Cyclone" like this, there is always the chance of power outages or internet interruptions.

Since we all should be snugly hunkered down anyway during the COVID-19 pandemic, consider this just another way to spend the time.

In this article, we’ll review some storm basics, such as what you need to do to prepare, where you can get local emergency information and how to shovel snow without causing a heart attack or damaged back. 

Also, how to stay out of trouble for violating Charlestown's town ordinance against throwing snowballs. Violating that ordinance could land you in jail for up to 30 days.

To monitor power outages:

Make sure you check your windows and doors. Have your storm equipment (flashlights, batteries, lanterns, shovels, etc.) where you can easily find it . Check your food supply to make sure you have enough for your household, including your companion animals (and the birds)

Charge your cell phones and other electronic devices. The high winds and heavy snow are likely to knock out some power in our area. 

In Charlestown, you can count on Kevin Gallup to be working this around the clock running the Charlestown Emergency Management Agency. Click here for the CEMA webpage. 

There is a listing of emergency contact information here. If you have special needs, i.e. someone in the household with a chronic illness, click here

After the storm is over, you’re obviously going to want to dig out but please use common sense and caution to prevent injury or heart attack. 

If you’re at risk, make sure you are carrying your cell phone in case you need to call for help.

Here's more on winter driving safety, then on safe snow shoveling and then on the town's prohibition against snowball-throwing.
Winter Driving and Safety Tips

From the RI Department of Transportation

How to prepare for winter driving

Avoid unnecessary travel during winter storms.

Get your vehicle winterized. Have your anti-freeze, battery, brakes, heater, exhaust system and lights tested. Make sure your tires are in good condition, and consider replacing them if they are nearing the end of their treadlife at the start of the winter driving season. Never travel with less than a half tank of gas. Equip your vehicle with jumper cables, road flares, a shovel, salt, extra warm clothes, sleeping bag or blankets, hat, mittens, and boots, a windshield scraper and a towline.

Carry a winter survival kit. Include flashlights, blankets, hand/foot warmer packets, first aid supplies, high energy candy or snacks, bright fabric to tie on the antenna for help if stranded, candles to melt snow for drinking water, pencil, paper and cell phone or change for phone calls.

Notify others of your travel plans. Tell someone where you are going and the route. Report a safe arrival.

Slow down and stay behind the snowplows
. The road behind the plow will be the safest place to drive. Allow at least five car lengths between your vehicle and snowplows. Do not pass, especially on the right where large amounts of snow are kicked up. The plows are wide, and sometimes a group of trucks will work in tandem to clear snow quickly, especially on highways. 

Be particularly aware of black ice conditions on surfaces such as bridge decks and entrance and exit ramps. 

Turn on headlights and turn off cruise control settings.

Technology helps, but only to a point. Four-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes and traction control are beneficial advancements in today's cars, trucks and SUVs, but they can't take the place of good driving habits and the need to reduce speed on snowy or icy roads.

Call 511 to get current information on road conditions.

After the storm, clear all snow and ice from your windows, hood, roof and trunk of your vehicle. This is especially important for drivers of box trucks, tractor-trailers and other large vehicles. A sudden release of snow or ice on the highway can create hazardous driving conditions, cause a crash or damage a vehicle behind you. Clearing ice and snow from your vehicle is not only a good idea, it's a law. 

What to do if you are stranded in a winter storm

Jack is now a dull boy
Stay in your vehicle. Walking away in a storm is very dangerous. You can lose your way, wander out of reach and/or become exhausted. Your vehicle is your best shelter.

Keep fresh air in your vehicle. It's better to be chilly and awake than to be comfortably warm and be overcome with carbon monoxide fumes. Keep your exhaust pipe free of snow and run your engine only for short periods of time, leaving a window away from the wind slightly open.

Keep warm without fuel. Loosen tight clothing and change positions frequently. Move your arms and legs, massage fingers and toes; tuck your hands between your legs or under your armpits. Huddle together with others to share body heat. Elevate your feet to improve circulation.

Call 911 if you have a cell phone. Describe your location, the condition of those in the car and what happened. Stay on the line until you know who you have spoken with and what will happen next.

What RIDOT Highway and Bridge Maintenance does to control snow and ice

RIDOT Highway and Bridge Maintenance staff as well as private contractors will clear many miles of Rhode Island state roadway this winter. Maintenance supervisors use technology to guide drivers with updates on weather, pavement and traffic conditions. RIDOT's Roadway Weather Information Systems (RWIS) provide the Department with pavement temperature information. This helps determine when icy conditions may be present and aids in the selection and application of anti-icing and de-icing materials.

RIDOT Highway and Bridge Maintenance uses three techniques to inhibit ice formation and improve the roadway surface for plowing. They include:

1.Anti-icing. Anti-icing prevents the formation of frost and bonding between snow and ice and pavement. Anti-icing chemicals are primarily liquids applied before or early in a snowfall.

2. Pre-wetting. Pre-wetting adds chemical solutions to the salt and sand mixture, causing the mixture to stick to the road instead of blowing off to the shoulder.

3. De-icing. De-icing uses chemical or mechanical means to separate ice and pavement.

Safe Snow Shoveling Tips
From: Andy Soos, 

When one shovels snow one thinks of back problems and slipping. Another urban legend tells of heart attacks. Urban legend warns shoveling snow causes heart attacks, and the legend seems all too accurate, especially for male wintery excavators with a family history of premature cardiovascular disease.

However, until recently this warning was based on anecdotal reports. Two of the most important cardiology associations in the US include snow -shoveling on their websites as a high risk physical activity, but all the citation references indicate that this warning was based one or two incidents.

"We thought that this evidence should not be enough to convince us that snow-shoveling is potentially dangerous, " says Adrian Baranchuk, a professor in Queen’s School of Medicine and a cardiologist atKingston General Hospital.

Dr. Baranchuk and his team retrospectively reviewed KGH patient records from the two previous winter seasons and discovered that of the 500 patients who came to the hospital with heart problems during this period, 7 per cent (35 patients) had started experiencing symptoms while shoveling snow.

"That is a huge number," says Dr. Baranchuk. "7 per cent of anything in medicine is a significant proportion. Also, if we take into account that we may have missed some patients who did not mention that they were shoveling snow around the time that the episode occurred, that number could easily double."

A heart attack results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable portion of the wall of an artery. The resulting restriction in blood supply and ensuing oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death (infarction) of heart muscle tissue.

Classical symptoms of acute myocardial infarction include sudden chest pain (typically radiating to the left arm or left side of the neck), shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, sweating, and anxiety (often described as a sense of impending doom). Women may experience fewer typical symptoms than men, most commonly shortness of breath, weakness, a feeling of indigestion, and fatigue.

The team also identified three main factors that put individuals at a high risk when shoveling snow. The number one factor was gender (31 of the 35 patients were male), the second was a family history of premature coronary artery disease (20 of the 35 patients), and the third was smoking (16 out of 35 patients). The second two factors may carry much more weight than the first, however, since the team could not correct for high rate of snow shoveling among men in their sample.

For further information:as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable portion of the artery wall.,  . The resulting restriction in blood supply and ensuing oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death of heart muscle tissue.

Classical symptoms of acute myocardial infarction include sudden chest pain (typically radiating to the left arm or left side of the neck), shortness of breath, palpitations, sweating, and anxiety (often described as a sense of impending doom). Women may experience fewer typical symptoms than men, most commonly shortness of breath, weakness, a feeling of indigestion, and fatigue. Approximately one quarter of all myocardial infarctions are silent, that is without chest pain or other symptoms.

EDITOR'S NOTE: if you meet some of the high-risk criteria and go out and shovel, make sure someone knows you're out there. Bring a cell phone, two-way radio or even a whistle to let people know if you are in distress. Carry aspirin or the convenient aspirin powder packs where you can easily reach them.


With this storm in the forecast, Charlestown faces a potential crime wave from persons who may openly flout Charlestown's long-standing prohibitions pertaining snow balls.

Snowball animated GIF
Namely, Chapter 162, Peace and good order, section 162-1.H., Actions unlawful: "No person acting alone or in concert with others shall: ... H. Throw any stone, snowball or other missile object upon or at any person, vehicle, building, tree , sign or other public or private property."

The penalties for throwing snow balls at at person, tree, vehicle or building can be severe:

"Any person who shall violate any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished, for each violation, by a fine of not more than $500 or by imprisonment for not more than 30 days. The continuation of a violation of any provision of this chapter shall constitute, for each day the violation is continued, a separate and distinct violation hereunder".

You could be prosecuted in Charlestown's Municipal Court and end up in one of the jail cells in the basement of the police station - one of them padded.