Emergency Management - Nov. 30, 2018
State and local officials are encouraging North Carolinians to plan and prepare now, before potentially dangerous winter weather arrives, during Winter Weather Preparedness Week, Dec. 2 - 8.
August Vernon, the director of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Office of Emergency Management, noted that some areas already have seen early rounds of winter weather. "We want all residents to be sure they are prepared for winter weather," Vernon said. "Take time now to review emergency plans, update emergency supply kits and always stay informed about weather forecasts."
Each year there are six to 12 winter storms in the Piedmont, 12 or more winter storms in the mountains and four or fewer winter storms that impact the coastal counties. When winter storms are expected residents should monitor local media weather reports and pay attention to winter weather warnings.
A winter storm watch is issued when conditions are favorable for snow, sleet or freezing rain within 48 hours. If a winter storm is imminent, a watch will be upgraded to warning or an advisory. A winter storm warning is issued when confidence is high that a winter storm is likely to produce at least 3 inches of snow, or ice accumulations of a quarter of an inch or more, within the next 24 hours. A winter weather advisory is issued when lesser amounts of snow or ice accumulation are expected within the next 24 hours and could cause travel difficulties.
Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center are expecting a weak El Niño pattern to develop and influence weather conditions this winter. This pattern favors wetter-than-normal conditions across the southeastern United States during the winter months, says Kevin Kalbaugh, a meteorologist for North Carolina Emergency Management.
"A wetter-than-normal winter does not necessarily mean a snowier winter," Kalbaugh said. "Long-range snow forecasts are pretty much impossible, but we have an increased potential of seeing above normal precipitation between December and February."
To help ensure you are ready for winter weather, emergency management officials urge you to:
- Always keep at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food in your home.
- Keep fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights.
- Dress warmly. Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing.
- Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep any electric generators outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Never burn charcoal indoors.
- Use a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio to monitor for changing weather conditions.
- Keep alternative heating sources and fire extinguishers on hand. Be sure your family knows how to use them.
- Store an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first aid kit and road map.
- Download the ReadyNC mobile app to have easy access to information about shelter locations, forecasts, road conditions, power outages and more.
If you must travel during bad weather, emergency officials remind motorists to leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles and, if driving on snow- or ice-covered roadways, reduce your speed. If conditions worsen, pull off the highway and remain in your vehicle. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you can take shelter.
Don't forget to include pets in your emergency plans. To keep animals safe during winter weather, emergency management officials recommend you:
- Make an emergency supply kit for your pet and include medical records, first aid kit, enough canned/dry food and water for three to seven days and pet travel bag or carrier.
- Do not leave pets outside for long periods of time.
- Ensure your pet has a well-fitting collar.
- Bring pets inside when temperatures drop below freezing.
- Move livestock and other animals to a sheltered location with food and water.
More information on winter weather and overall emergency preparedness can be found on the ReadyNC mobile app and online at ReadyForsyth.org or ReadyNC.org. Emergency Management also posts updated information on its ReadyForsyth Facebook page.