Winter winds, with their low temperatures, snow and ice and high winds, pose a threat not only to property, but also to life itself. If not protected, people and livestock cannot withstand the conditions of a winter storm.
Crops, with the exception of winter cover crops, are not growing in the fields during the winter, so winter storms pose no dangers to them. However, winter storms pose a grave danger to operations growing nursery crops such as trees and shrubs, and to fruit orchards. Trees are vulnerable to breakage under the snow and ice accumulations, especially when comibned with high winds that are typical of winter storms.
The survival of livestock is paramount, to avoid loss of life and subsequent economic loss. Young animals and pregnant or nursing mothers are particularly vulnerable. Sheltered areas and barns improve their chances of survival. Most large livestock that die in winter storms die from dehydration. So food and especially water must somehow be delivered to pastured animals to ensure their survival, by snowmobile or helicopter if necessary.
Farm buildings may be damaged by heavy snows on the roofs or by high winds. In addition, plumbing systems in the farm home or in the barn may be damaged in severe cold.
Equipment such as milking machines and refrigeration for milk storage will not operate in the absence of electricity. In areas experiencing frequent electrical outages, the expense of an electrical generator‹which can also mean the comfort and survival of animals and family‹is necessary.
Soils may be eroded, with attendant leaching of nutrients and agricultural chemicals, as the snow and ice melts.
Environmental costs of winter storms include broken trees and ruined landscaping and water quality problems accompanying erosion.
In the long term, winter storms create many up-front costs when a producer prepares for them. However, additional financial burdens may result from building damage and loss of livestock and treestock.
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