News Flash

Marketing & Communications

Posted on: December 7, 2021

Prepare for Winter Storms During Winter Weather Preparedness Week

State and local officials are encouraging North Carolinians to plan and prepare for winter storms during Winter Weather Preparedness Week, Dec. 5 - 11.

August Vernon, the director of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Office of Emergency Management, says the best way to prepare for winter storms is to review your family emergency plan with everyone in your household. “You should also make sure your emergency supply kit is up to date and stay informed about weather forecasts,” Vernon said. 

North Carolina’s unpredictable winter weather patterns can be attributed to the state’s proximity to the Appalachian Mountains, Atlantic Ocean, Gulf Stream and Gulf of Mexico. An added factor this year will be La Niña conditions that will also influence the weather across the state. 

La Niña occurs when the ocean waters are cooler than normal in the central Pacific Ocean. Kevin Kalbaugh, a meteorologist with North Carolina Emergency Management, says that La Niña conditions are expected to continue through the winter months. “Even though a La Niña pattern typically means warmer and drier conditions across the southeast, winter storms can and do still occur,” Kalbaugh said.

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 a 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.

To help ensure you are ready for winter weather, emergency management officials suggest keeping at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food as well as medications in your home, along with fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights. Be sure to dress warmly by wearing multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing.

When using alternative heating sources be sure you know how to safely operate them. It’s especially important to properly vent kerosene heaters and keep any electric generators outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning; and never burn charcoal indoors. It’s also important to keep a fire extinguisher on hand. 

If you must travel during bad weather, leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles. 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. You should also store an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes a scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first aid kit and a road map.

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 a 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 overall emergency preparedness can be found online at ReadyForsyth.org or ReadyNC.gov. Please take a moment to ‘LIKE’ and ‘SHARE’ ReadyForsyth on Facebook and Twitter to receive the most recently updated information. Check daily for updated information and tips about preparedness.  


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