The calendar says it’s a month away, but winter weather is here, and a strong winter season is a possibility again this year. To encourage residents to get ready for chilly weather, Winter Preparedness week runs December 1-7 this year. Here are some important tips:
- Freezing Rain creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.
- Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground, causing roads to freeze and become slippery.
- Winter Weather Advisory: cold, ice and snow are expected.
- Winter Storm Watch: severe weather, such as heavy snow or ice, is possible in the next day or two.
- Winter Storm Warning: severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.
- Blizzard Warning: heavy snow and strong winds will produce a blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill.
- Frost/Freeze Warning: below-freezing temperatures are expected.
On the Road
It’s always best to stay off roads during winter storms. Most traffic crashes happen within the first two hours after a storm starts.
- Get road conditions by calling 511 or visiting www.511Virginia.org, and always monitor local media.
- Always keep your tank full of gas
- Is your vehicle ready for winter? Check VDOT’s website for tips: http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/faq-winterdrive.asp
- Clear the snow and ice from your vehicle’s roof, hood and trunk and especially from the windows, mirrors and lights.
- Don’t pass a snowplow or spreader unless it is absolutely necessary. Treat these as you would emergency response vehicles.
- Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are plowing the road.
- If you heat with a fireplace or wood stove: Have a professional check it, especially if it has been a long time since the last cleaning. Residue can build up and cause fires.
- Safe use of space heaters: Never plug them into extension cords; plug into wall outlets. Keep space heaters at least three feet from other objects, and turn off before going to bed.
- Stay informed during power outages. Be sure you have a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio (and extra batteries). Get one with the NOAA Weather Radio band so you can hear winter weather reports directly from the National Weather Service as well as local radio stations. These are available at electronics, discount and sporting goods stores, and online from many retail outlets. Models are available for those with special needs.
- Don’t use candles during power outages: Many home fires in winter are caused by candles. Flashlights are much safer. Be sure to have plenty of extra batteries.
- Family emergency plan. If your family cannot return home because of severe weather or closed roads, you need to decide now on where you will meet to reunite. You also need an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family emergency contact. Learn more about making a plan for winter weather and all emergencies – and get a free family emergency plan worksheet – at www.ReadyVirginia.gov. Use our Preparedness App to keep your plan handy.
- Water Main Breaks Most common as temperatures fluctuate. Click here for some interesting facts.
Winter Preparedness Video