Cold waves

A cold wave, sometimes known as a cold snap or deep freeze, is a weather event involving a cooling of the air, or the invasion of very cold air, over a large area. It is marked by a drop of average temperature well below the averages of a region. Cold waves can have negative impacts on people, crops, properties and services. They can be preceded or accompanied by significant winter weather events, such as blizzards or ice storms. And they can feel even colder during periods of high winds.

A Mongolian herder drags two recently perished sheep behind his home in Khuvsgul province, Mongolia during a period of extreme cold in 2017

Emergency appeals

Do you know how to prepare for a cold wave?

Do's and don'ts

  • Monitor weather forecasts and sign up to early warning alerts
  • Check on and assist vulnerable individuals, such as older people
  • Avoid exposure to extreme cold and snow
  • Know symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite
  • Prepare your vehicle for winter conditions
  • If a snow storm is expected, stock up on food and water supplies
  • Don't use outdoor heating/cooking devices inside that don't have ventilation
  • Running water, even a trickle, can help prevent pipes from freezing
  • Avoid travelling alone and at night
  • Make sure pets and livestock have plenty of food and water

Watch: how to prepare for a cold wave