NOAA 2001-R280
Contact: Curtis Carey

Alaska Governor Proclaims Winter Weather Awareness Week

Alaska's harsh winter claimed seven lives last year, and the National Weather Service, an agency of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is trying to prevent a sequel. Next week, forecast offices within the agency's Alaska region will step-up their efforts to urge Alaskans to take precautions during the upcoming cold season.

Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles has proclaimed Oct. 7-14 Winter Weather Awareness Week in Alaska. Throughout the week, Alaskans will hear public service announcements about severe winter weather broadcast across NOAA Weather Radio and participating commercial radio stations.

"It is important to make sure that Alaskans are thinking about the dangers that severe winter weather presents," said Richard Przywarty, director of the Alaska region of the weather service. "This campaign is aimed at reaching out and informing the public of these threats and how best to prepare for them. Hopefully this campaign will avert the loss of life we've seen in previous years."

Alaska's diverse landscape creates different winter weather scenarios that often are hazardous if residents are not fully prepared. The leading cause of winter-related deaths in Alaska are a result of automobile accidents. "That's where people are most vulnerable, and the chances of long-term exposure to the cold air is greatest," Przywarty said. Other dangers include avalanches, hypothermia and exhaustion.

The weather service is encouraging Alaskans to prepare emergency survival kits for the home and car, and making sure families have a disaster plan for handling severe winter weather at home, on the roadways, or in the back country. "These simple actions could save your life," Przywarty said.

"Deep cold can shut down air travel for weeks, disrupting fuel deliveries and cutting off deliveries of medical supplies," said Robert Hopkins, the meteorologist in charge of the Anchorage forecast office. "Avalanches, black ice, high winds and freezing water are dangers that all Alaskans need to watch."

The National Weather Service will issue its official outlook for Winter 2001-02 on Oct. 18.

NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NWS operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

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