With Tuesday's spring-like weather and sunny skies, it's hard to imagine the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch in anticipation of a major winter storm impacting this area Thursday and Friday.

With Tuesday's spring-like weather and sunny skies, it's hard to imagine the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch in anticipation of a major winter storm impacting this area Thursday and Friday.

According to the NWS, a cold front is expected to enter Northwest Oklahoma and then pass through the State by mid-morning Thursday, with significant amounts of snow, sleet and freezing rain expected.

Frank Loman, streets superintendent for the city of Shawnee, said salt and sand equipment was being readied on Tuesday ahead of the storm.

With one of two graders in the shop, Loman said they will see where salt and sand are needed and if they need to split crews to run 24-hour shifts, they will do that.

Loman said the main roadways — MacArthur, Harrison, Farrall, Independence, Wallace and Federal, are among the first roadways they will treat as needed to assist emergency personnel.

Their efforts will depend on what type of precipitation arrives.

"We'll play it by ear," he said.

Don Lynch, Shawnee's emergency management director, was issuing information from the NWS ahead of the storm as well, with many factors dictating whether the area will see snow, freezing rain or sleet.

He said a brief round of freezing rain is expected Thursday morning through mid-afternoon with accumulations of .10 inches possible on bridges, overpasses, and protected surfaces expected.

The main wave of precipitation is forecasted to start around 9 or 10 p.m. Thursday night and end by mid-day Friday.

"For our area this will most likely be in the form of sleet possibly changing over to snow by the end of the storm," Lynch said, adding that temperatures are not expected to get above freezing until early next week.

Lynch reports that dangerous driving and walking conditions will result from accumulation of sleet, and ice accumulation in the freezing rain area and possibly in the sleet accumulation area may cause power outages and tree damage.

Ahead of the storm, the American Red Cross also provides safety tips:

• Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog.

• Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.

• Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-¬fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.

• Check on your animals. If possible, bring them indoors.

• Watch for frostbite and hypothermia, which are cold-related emergencies that may quickly become life or limb threatening. Preventing cold-related emergencies includes not starting an activity in, on, or around cold water unless you know you can get help quickly in an emergency. Be aware of the wind chill. Dress appropriately and avoid staying in the cold too long. Wear a hat and gloves when appropriate with layers of clothing. Drink plenty of warm fluids or warm water but avoid caffeine and alcohol. Stay active to maintain body heat. Take frequent breaks from the cold. Avoid unnecessary exposure of any part of the body to the cold. Get out of the cold immediately if the signals of hypothermia or frostbite appear.

• Signals of frostbite include: Lack of feeling in the affected area; skin that appears waxy, is cold to the touch, or is discolored (flushed, white or gray, yellow or blue).

• Hypothermia is another cold-related emergencies. Hypothermia may quickly become life threatening. Hypothermia is caused by the cooling of the body caused by the failure of the body's warming system. The goals of first aid are to restore normal body temperature and to care for any conditions while waiting for EMS personnel.

• Signals of hypothermia include— shivering, numbness, glassy stare; apathy, weakness, impaired judgment; loss of consciousness.

As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for winter storms by:

• Assembling an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Pack a winter-specific supply kit that includes a warm coat,

hat, mittens or gloves, and water-resistant boots, along with extra blankets and extra warm clothing. Sand or non-clumping kitty litter is good to have on hand to help make walkways or steps less slippery. Additionally, make sure you have a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries in your home in the event of a power outage.

• Heeding Storm Warnings: A winter storm WATCH means winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions via NOAA Weather radio, or local radio or television stations. A winter storm WARNING means that life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. Individuals in a warning area should take precautions immediately.

• Preparing Your Home and Car: Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full, which will help to keep the fuel line from freezing. Make sure your home is properly insulated by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to help keep cold air out. Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year. Running water, even at a trickle, helps to prevent pipes from freezing.

For more information on winter storm preparedness, visit www.redcross.org or www.cruzrojaamericana.org or call 1-800 RED CROSS.