“Some North Carolina families have already seen their first round of winter weather while others are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, but we want all residents to be prepared for winter weather in the months ahead,” Governor Cooper said. “Take time now to review emergency plans, update emergency supply kits and always stay informed about weather forecasts.”
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. Each year there are approximately 6 to 12 winter storms in the Piedmont, 12 or more winter storms in the mountains and fewer than 4 winter storms that impact the coastal counties.
Governor Cooper urged residents to monitor changing weather conditions by listening to local media and paying close attention to winter weather warnings. Remember, a Winter Storm Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for either heavy snow, sleet, or freezing rain within the next 48 hours, while a Winter Storm Warning is issued when at least 3” of snow and/or ice accumulations of ¼” or more are likely within the next 24 hours. A Winter Weather Advisory is issued when 1 to 3” of snow or ice accumulations of less than ¼” are expected within the next 24 hours, causing travel difficulties.
Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center are expecting a weak El Nino pattern to develop and influence weather conditions this winter. An El Niño pattern favors wetter than normal conditions across the southeastern United States during the winter months.
“A wetter than normal winter does not necessarily mean a snowier winter,” said North Carolina Emergency Management Meteorologist Kevin Kalbaugh. “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, North Carolina Emergency Management officials urge you to:
• Always keep enough non-perishable food in your home for 3 days.
• 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.
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.
Governor Cooper encourages North Carolinians to include pets in their emergency plans. To keep animals safe during winter weather, emergency management officials recommend you:
• Make an emergency supplies kit for your pet and include medical records, first aid kit, enough canned/dry food and water for 3 – 7 days and pet travel bag or carrier.
• Do not leave pets outside for long periods of time and bring pets inside when temperatures drop below freezing.
• Ensure your pet has a well-fitting collar.
• Move livestock and other animals to a sheltered location with food and water.
The Department of Public Safety and the National Weather Service work together to help North Carolinians plan and prepare for winter weather by providing accurate weather and safety information.
Suggestions for an Emergency Kit
Have the basic things in your emergency supplies kit. Other things you may need are:
- Extra eyeglasses, hearing aids if you have them or have coverage for them.
- Battery chargers and extra batteries for hearing aids, motorized wheelchairs or other battery-operated medical or assistive technology devices.
- Copies of medical prescriptions, doctors’ orders and the style and serial numbers of the support devices you use.
- Medical alert tags or bracelets or written descriptions of your disability and support needs, if you cannot tell someone about your needs in an emergency.
- Supplies for your service animal.
- Medical insurance cards, Medicare/Medicaid cards, physician contact information, list of your allergies and health history.
- List of the local non-profit or community-based groups that know you or help people with access and functional needs like yours.
- List of personal contacts, family and friends that you may need to get in touch with in an emergency.
- Covered personal communication board, if you might need assistance with being understood.
- If possible, extra medicine, oxygen, insulin, catheters or other medical supplies you use on a normal basis.
- If you use a motorized wheelchair, have a light weight manual chair available for emergencies. Know the size, weight and if it is collapsible, in case it has to be moved to another place.
- Even if you do not use a computer yourself, think about putting important facts onto a flash drive for you to take with you if you need to leave your house.