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Photo courtesy of Alexander County Government

Officials Remind Citizens To Be Ready During Winter Weather Preparedness Week

This week is Winter Weather Preparedness Week. State and local officials encourage citizens to plan and prepare now before potentially dangerous winter weather arrives.

According to a news release from Alexander County Government, North Carolina’s proximity to the Appalachian Mountains, Atlantic Ocean, Gulf Stream, and Gulf of Mexico creates complex winter weather forecasts. This winter, the state will likely be impacted by an El Niño pattern, which favors above-normal precipitation across the state.

The North Carolina State Climate Office predicts that it will take a while for us to see most of the impact of these weather changes but the agency says to expect a shift to wetter-than-normal conditions to arrive in January/February. While seasonal snow forecasts are complicated, the news release says historical odds favor at least one measurable snowfall for most of the state this winter.

During winter weather events, emergency officials advise that the best way to stay safe is to stay informed and pay close attention to the latest forecast using local media or a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio and be alert for changing weather conditions. It’s important to know what different winter weather headlines mean, and even though the criteria for winter weather watches, warnings, and advisories vary across North Carolina, they all have the same premises, so remember:

• Winter Storm Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for either heavy snow, sleet, or freezing rain within the next 24-48 hours.
• Winter Storm Warning is issued when confidence is high that a winter storm will cause significant impacts within the next 12-36 hours.
• Winter Weather Advisory is issued when wintry weather is expected and residents should exercise caution as light to moderate amounts of snow, sleet, or freezing rain are expected within the next 12-36 hours, causing travel difficulties.

To help ensure you are ready for winter weather, emergency officials suggest keeping at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food as well as medications in your home, along with fresh batteries 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, 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 roadway 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 an ice scraper, jumper cables, a tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, a flashlight, a 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 officials recommend that you:

• Make an emergency supplies kit for your pet and include medical records, a 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.
• 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.

For more information on how to prepare for winter storms, visit www.readync.gov.

[News release from Alexander County Government]