Hurricane Season is behind us, but that doesn’t mean storm preparedness ends. The best time to prepare for severe winter weather is now, before temperatures drop significantly and staying safe and warm becomes a challenge. The National Weather Service (NWS) has deemed it Winter Preparedness Week and is offering tips and information to help communities get ready for potentially dangerous winter storms.
Below are some quick steps you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this winter.
- Have an emergency kit prepared with supplies such as flashlights and batteries in your home and car, blankets, food that needs no cooking or refrigeration, a 3 day supply of water, prescription medicines, a battery operated radio and flashlights, battery powered cell phone chargers, snow shovel etc. Learn more about preparing a winter preparedness plan by visiting www.readyvirginia.gov.
- Winterize your home by insulating walls and attics and caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows.
- If you use woodstoves or fireplaces to heat your home, remember to have them professionally serviced and cleaned.
- Check batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors.
- Prepare your vehicle with emergency supplies and have maintenance service on your vehicle as often as the manufacturer recommends.
A key part of preparedness is understanding the terms the NWS uses to describe winter weather, as well as the definitions of watches, warnings and advisories issued for winter weather events.
- A hazardous weather outlook is issued when forecasters believe winter storm conditions are possible. Outlooks are usually issued three to five days in advance of a winter storm.
- A winter storm watch alerts the public to the possibility of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain or heavy sleet. Winter storm watches are usually issued 24 to 48 hours before the beginning of a winter storm. These events may occur separately or in combination. Since watches are issued well in advance of the storm, there will be times when the storm does not materialize, so they may be canceled.
- A winter storm warning is issued when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, heavy sleet or any combination of heavy winter precipitation is imminent or occurring. Winter storm warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin.
- An ice storm warning is issued when significant ice is expected to accumulate on trees, power lines and roads. An ice storm is very dangerous, often disrupting traffic and knocking down power lines. Prolonged power outages can occur leaving people without power for up to a week or more.
- A wind chill warning is issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be hazardous to life within several minutes of exposure, usually at temperatures below minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
- A blizzard warning is issued for sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more and falling or blowing snow creating visibilities at or below one quarter mile. These conditions should persist for at least three hours.
An advisory is issued for less serious weather conditions. Specific advisories will alert you to weather that would have a significant effect on roadways, outdoor activities or public events. The following are the advisory headlines issued for winter weather events:
- A winter weather advisory is issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and/or sleet which will cause significant inconveniences, but if sufficient caution is exercised, do not usually threaten life and property.
- A wind chill advisory is issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be a significant inconvenience to life with prolonged exposure, and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to hazardous exposure.
For more information on Winter Weather Preparedness Week, visit the NWS website. We will continue to share tips throughout the week, so be sure to read, share and prepare
Leave a Reply