National Weather Service officials in Riverton and local emergency management agencies are encouraging Wyoming residents to use Winter Weather Awareness Week to prepare for winter. Businesses, schools, and local, state, and federal government agencies are urged take the time to test their winter weather safety procedures before they are needed. Meteorologist Chris Jones says it is not too early for individuals, families, businesses, schools, and media outlets to review their winter and hazardous preparedness plans and to familiarize themselves with the dangers of winter weather. Jones says it really comes down to communication and how a family will stay in touch with each other. He says that can be through texting or a phone call or other form of communication – and there should be an established meeting place. For businesses, Jones says, the question needs to be asked “would you have provisions available at your business to shelter employees for 48 or 72 hours if necessary.” Jones encourages creating an emergency preparedness kit for vehicles as well. Already, wintery weather has forced the seasonal closure of the Beartooth Highway near Yellowstone. Jones says in communities such as Jackson, Afton, Evanston, and Pinedale, the heaviest snow falls are typically from December through early March. That’s when there is persistent westerly flow off the Pacific Ocean which is largely responsible for the snow in the western valleys.