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Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 @ 3:14 PM
Updated: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 @ 3:14 PM
According to the Federal Highway Administration, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement, resulting in over 1,300 deaths and more than 116,800 injuries annually.
"Winter weather can be challenging for drivers, no matter their level of expertise," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelly Blue Book's website KBB.com. "Preparation starts by purchasing a vehicle with appropriate winter driving capabilities, and it extends to paying close attention to important details such as tires, washer fluid and other maintenance items that are critical to help keep passengers safe in inclement weather."
All-wheel drive counts. All-wheel drive aids acceleration and maximizes available traction, sending power to all four corners. This comes in handy when accelerating from a stop on wet, icy or snowy surfaces and makes it less likely that you'll get stuck, particularly on slippery inclines.
However, the type of tires on your car matter more. It's important to remember that the tires are the only part of a vehicle that actually touch the ground. As a result, they are ultimately responsible for the level of traction a vehicle will or won't have, regardless of how good its traction control, stability control, or all-wheel drive system. If the tires can't grip on snow and ice, you're not going anywhere. Snow tires (or "winter" tires) offer more traction than all-season tires.
There is no one-size-fits-all setup. However, where you live, the amount of snowfall the area sees, and your level of driving comfort should dictate which type of vehicle and tires are right for you. Keep in mind that winter tires will wear rapidly in warmer temperatures, so you should be ready to change your winter tires out when the weather changes.
Be practical. While the top option remains an all-wheel drive vehicle fitted with winter tires, if you're budget-conscious, front-wheel drive with winter tires is another good option. Due to the price premium seen on today's all-wheel drive vehicles, experts suggest buying a car that fits your everyday lifestyle, rather than occasional needs.
Don't use a mixed set of snow tires. Make sure to fit matching snow tires to all four wheels, rather than a mixed set at each end, which can compromise handling.
Have your vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic. You should ensure your vehicle has all necessary maintenance performed, including checking tire pressure, fluid levels, the function of the heater, defroster, and wipers, as well as the health of the brakes, battery, and all belts and hoses.
When in doubt, slow down. Even with a fully-winterized vehicle, staying alert and traveling at safe speeds are essential to driving safely in winter weather.
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 3:34 AM
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 1:24 PM
— QUICK-LOOK FORECAST
Today: Lots of sunshine, but breezy and cold. Highs today climb to near 30 degrees, but will feel like the single digits and teens due to the wind. Later tonight skies remain mainly clear. Temperatures will drop, but not as low as last night. Overnight lows expected in the upper teens with wind chills in the single digits.
Friday: It won’t be as cold in the morning and most will start with temperatures in the upper teens. There will be sunshine and clouds increasing through the day. Highs will be in the mid-30s, which is back to normal. It will be a nice, dry end to the week.
Saturday: It will be a beautiful start to the weekend. It will be a mild day with highs in the mid to upper 40s. There will be sunshine and scattered clouds, but it will stay dry during the day. We could see a few light showers at night.
Sunday: Another system will bring some scattered rain showers to the day. Highs will be in the upper 40s and it will be breezy.
Monday: It will be a wet morning commute with steadier showers moving through during the first half of the day. Highs will be in the upper 40s in the morning and continue to fall. We could see some gusty winds and some possible wet snow showers toward the end of the night.
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 12:32 PM
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 12:39 PM
You see how you fit into this cosmic schema and you see how all is family from one side of the horizon to the other. It is clear to you how the cycles of morning to evening and evening to morning, from springtime to next springtime, form birth to death to birth, all follow similar and necessary trajectories.
— Peter London, Drawing Closer to Nature
The Frolicking Fox Moon, new on January 16, waxes throughout the period, encouraging foxes and other small wild animals to court and frolick, no matter what the weather. It enters its second quarter at 9:26 p.m. on January 23. Rising in the morning and setting in the evening, this Moon passes overhead in the afternoon.
The Sun: Leaving Deep Winter’s constellation of Capricorn behind, the Sun moves higher in the daytime sky, entering Aquarius on the 20th, ushering in the last subseason of winter (aptly called “Late Winter”). Little by little, the day’s length is approaching a spring-like ten hours!
The Planets: Jupiter and Mars are still the morning stars this week. Look for them in the southeast in Libra.
The Stars: The new Moon will be setting in the west these dark evenings, following the Northern Cross (Cygnus) toward the horizon. As you look directly above you, try to find Perseus (looking a little like a horse). In the east, Orion stands tall.
The Shooting Stars: There are no major meteor showers this week.
Weather Trends: The January Thaw period begins this week and often lasts through the 25th. The Moon, entering its mild second quarter on the 23rd, increases the chances of a significant thaw.
The Natural Calendar: Autumn’s fruits are giving way to the weather, measuring the advance of the Northern Hemisphere back toward the sun The feathery heads of virgin’s bower, soft and thick in late November, have blown away in the wind. Hosta pods are almost empty. The final rose of Sharon seeds lie precariously in their open calices. Worn tufts of ironweed are half gone.
The heads of purple coneflowers and zinnias, tough and unyielding a month ago, crumble between your fingers. Some honeysuckle and euonymus berries still hang to their branches, but their flush and firmness are gone. In the greenhouse, the blossoms have withered on the Christmas cacti.
Fish, Game, Livestock and Birds: Dependable companions in the cold winter mornings, crows now become more boisterous; their migration typically starts this week. Sparrows and starlings court and build nests from now through the end of spring. Overwintering robins become more active in the daytime; opossums and raccoons and frolicking foxes become more active at night as Deep Winter wanes.
Ladybugs sometimes emerge in sunny window sills this time of the month, foretelling the January thaw. In addition, they bring good luck; treat them well!
Hunt and fish when the barometer is low around the January 19 and 25 cold fronts, and make plans to take advantage of low barometric pressure during the January thaw period. The waxing first-quarter Moon will be overhead in the afternoon, making fish and game more likely to be active at that time of day.
In the Field and Garden: New Moon on the 19th is a perfect lunar time for putting in all of your bedding plant seeds for spring. Try flats of greens and flowers for setting out in March; plant a second batch of everything at February’s new Moon.
Frost seeding typically begins at this time of the year. Broadcast crops such as red clover in the pastures, and scatter grass seed over bare spots on the lawn. The freezing and thawing of the ground works the seeds into the ground.
Christmas cacti can be divided and propagated throughout the months ahead. You might turn one cactus into a lucrative business if you’re willing to work at it for a few years!
Marketing Notes: Mardi Gras takes place on February 13 this year, and it is followed by Chinese New Year (the Year of the Dog) on February 16. Explore needs that celebrants might have for food and paraphernalia.
The Almanack Horoscope: The influence of the slowly waxing Frolicking Fox Moon weakens throughout the week, and seasonal stress should weaken along with it. Even though the cold and gray skies of winter may be causing irritability and depression, the possibility of a January thaw opens the door to hope and optimism. Now is the time to pay special attention to even the smallest changes in the landscape around you; they measure the approach of warmth and sun.
January 19, 1989: Looking for spring, we went southeast over the mountains. On the way through South Carolina, we saw the first flower in bloom, a roadside sow thistle. Buzzards were circling, and the first trees were definitely in flower 60 miles north of Savanna. A daffodil was budding at the Georgia line.
Some black medic and white clover, red clover, and dandelions were in full bloom, too, fifty days in time away from Springfield. Thistles had thick stalks, a foot and a half high, June size. Wild onions were as tall as in April here. Throughout the cities, the tree line was pink with flowers. Just past the Florida state line, we saw a flock of robins flying north along the coast.
More sow thistles were completely open, along with dock, hairy chickweed, and bittercress. Jacksonville was in the center of middle spring: Elderberries and azaleas blooming, some sugar maples half to fully leafed, beds of pansies blooming, calves in the fields. My daughter, Jeni, found a newborn turtle last week in the pond by her apartment.
OTHER POOR WILL’S ALMANACK COLUMNS
Poor Will’s Almanack for 2018 is still available. Order yours from Amazon, or, for an autographed copy, order from www.poorwillsalmanack.com. You can also purchase Bill Felker’s new book of essays, “Home is the Prime Meridian,” from those websites.
Published: Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 12:47 PM
There are plenty of meteor showers to enjoy this year, reports Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini.
Mark your calendars and keep checking in for the latest forecast.
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Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 8:48 AM
— In the past several days, multiple meteor sightings have been reported across the area and have grabbed national attention. But, did you know there is a process that takes place before you see the flash of light?
“In space there are comets, asteroids and smaller obits of debris or space rock called meteoroids,” Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini said. “If these meteoroids enter the Earth's atmosphere they heat up during the trip producing a bright tail.”
“A meteor as bright as Venus is known as a fireball, a bolide is a big meteoroid that actually explodes when traveling through the atmosphere producing a bright flash! If any piece of the space rock actually survives the trip and lands on earth it is called a meteorite,” Zontini said.
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If you capture a meteor or fireball on video or find any meteorites where you live, share them on social media using the hashtag #SkyWitness7