National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

 

Winter Weather Preparedness Week for North Carolina

December 4th - 10th, 2022

 

Please join us in promoting winter weather safety during this year's "Winter Weather Preparedness Week". The National Weather Service asks emergency management, public safety officials, local media and Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors to help join forces in improving the nation's readiness, responsiveness, and overall resilience against extreme weather during the winter weather season.

 

Each day this week, a different topic will be covered. Click on the tabs below for more winter weather preparedness information.

 

Sunday

Winter Season Outlook and winter weather terminology

 

This will provide you with some terms the National Weather Service uses to describe winter weather as well as the definitions of watches, warnings, and advisories issued for winter weather events.

 

 

temperature outlook

 

precipitation forecast

 

 

Watches are issued when a storm is in it's early stage of development, and may create conditions that may harm life and property. Hazardous winter weather is only a possibility, not a certainty. 

The following are the watch headlines issued for winter weather events: 

  • Winter Storm Watch is issued when heavy snow, damaging ice accumulations, or blizzard conditions are possible. Winter storm watches are typically issued 24 to 48 hours before a winter storm starts. 
  • Wind Chill Watch is issued when dangerously cold wind chills are possible typically in the next 12 to 48 hours. 

 

Warnings are issued when the threat to life and property is imminent or has already begun from severe winter weather.

The following are the warning headlines issued for winter weather events:

  • Winter Storm Warning is issued when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, freezing rain, sleet or any combination there of, is imminent or occurring. Winter storm warnings are typically issued 12 to 36 hours before the event is expected to start.
  • Ice Storm Warning is issued when damaging ice accumulations are expected within the next 12 to 36 hours.
  • Blizzard Warning is issued when sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more prevail, combined with falling or blowing snow, visibility of one quarter of a mile or less, and last for at least 3 hours.
  • Snow Squall Warning is issued for short duration intense bursts of snow and wind leading to whiteout visibility and possible flash freezes on roads.
  • Wind Chill Warning is issued when the combination of extreme cold and winds occur. This combination will result in frostbite, hypothermia, or even death when exposed in this type of condition for an extended period of time.  These are issued when wind chill values are expected to be less than -15F.  

 

Advisories are issued for less serious weather conditions that will not cause immediate threat to life and property. Advisories will be issued when weather conditions will impact motorists, outdoor activities, or public events. These events could become life-threatening if proper precautions are not taken.

The following are the advisory headlines issued for winter weather events:

  • Winter Weather Advisory is issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, or sleet, that will create inconveniences. During an advisory, if caution is not exercised, life and property may be threatened. 
  • Wind Chill Advisory is issued when wind chill temperatures create inconvenience to life with prolonged exposure. If caution is not exercised, hypothermia and frostbite may occur.  Issued for wind chills values less than 0 degree but not colder than -14F.  

 

Monday

Winter weather patterns affecting North Carolina

 

The most common and dangerous winter weather systems which can produce snow and ice are strong coastal low pressure systems known as nor'easters.  This was the case almost in 2016 on January 22nd - 23rd, 2016 when more than 6" of snow fell inland across our area, with 12"+ in the mountains. 

    

 

 

Winter storms can make driving and walking extremely dangerous.  The aftermath of a major winter storm can have a devastating impact for days or even weeks. Winter storms can be deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm.  People die in traffic accidents on icy roads, have heart attacks while shoveling snow, or succumb to fires or carbon monoxide while trying to heat their home improperly.  With proper planning and preparation, you can limit or even mitigate the impacts from winter storms. 

 

 

Winter infographics

 
 

 

Tuesday

Preparing your home for winter

 

Stock an emergency supply of food and water prior to the onset of a winter storm.  Include food items which require no cooking such as canned meats, peanut butter and other non-perishables.  Also do not forget to have necessary medicines and baby items on hand.  A three to five day supply of food and medicine is generally sufficient.  A lot of these items may already be in your home from your hurricane kit. 

 

Severe winter storms can produce conditions which can isolate you in your home for several days.  Prolonged loss of power and telephone services can severely limit your ability to heat your home and call for help.  In severe winter storms, obtaining supplies, food and other necessities can be hampered or prevented by poor road conditions.

 

Example home emergency supply kit

 

Preparation Kit

 

 

 

 

Winter infographics

 

 


 

 

Wednesday

Driving in winter weather

 

Seventy-five percent of all winter weather related deaths occur on the road, either in accidents or by people becoming stranded. When the weather is bad and driving conditions are poor, the best bet is to stay at home

 

  1. Make sure your car is in good running condition. Make sure that your battery, antifreeze, windshield wipers, ignition and thermostat are all in good working order. Be sure your tires have enough tread. Replace any of these items if necessary.
  2. If you must go out when snow and ice are on the ground, let someone know your destination and when you plan to arrive. Also take a cell phone with you if possible. 
  3. Clean snow and ice off all parts of your car before you drive away.
  4. Keep your gas tank as full as possible when snow and ice are forecast. This will not only give you added peace of mind, it also increases the weight of your car and this will provide additional traction.
  5. Keep the following basic items in your car - windshield scraper and brush, booster/jumper cables, a tow chain or rope, bag of sand or salt, blankets, flashlight, first aid kit and road map.
  6. Overall drive slow. Driving at even posted speeds is extremely dangerous when snow and ice are on the road. Many vehicles will lose traction especially at higher speeds resulting in serious accident and vehicle rollovers. 
  7. Steer your car into the skid. If your vehicle loses traction and begins to skid, steer the front tires into the direction of the skid. Never hit your brakes as this will result in a more serious skid and spinning of the vehicle. When your vehicle skids keep your cool and remain calm. Again driving at slower speeds will help you recover from a skid. 

 

 

 

 

Winter infographics

 

 

 

 

Thursday

Excessive Cold/Reducing the fire risk in your home

 

Cold weather is a fact of winter.  With the cold temperatures comes an increase in the number of house fires.  House fires resulting from heating material within the home ranks second for the most deaths and property loss.  Chimney fires are the number one cause of home heating fires and typically the result of a poorly maintained chimney where creosote is allowed to build up. Space heaters are typically involved in 25 perfect of home heating fires and account for 74 percent of the deaths.  Be sure to test some detectors and replace any broken detectors and dead batteries. 

 

 

 

Winter infographics

 

 

 

 

 

Friday

Winter climatology and becoming a winter weather observer

 

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

To accurately understand what is happening across our area in real time, we have over 1500 weather spotters that have been trained to reports all types of weather to us, including rain and snowfall reports.  Training can be completed by visiting our Skywarn website.  We can't stress how much these real time, ground truth, reports, help us at the office.

If you're looking for something to do on a more consistent basis, have you ever heard of CoCoRaHS?  Citizen scientists wishing to report snow and rainfall amounts are encouraged to join the community collaborative, rain, hail and snow network.  Daily reports are sent via the internet and used by the National Weather Service and other agencies daily.  For more information please visit: http://www.cocorahs.org.   

 

Measuring Snow

 

 

Saturday

Dangers associated with freezing rain and sleet

 

Ice falling in the form of freezing rain is particularly dangerous and poses a variety of problems.  The ability of freezing rain to accumulate on nearly every surface, including trees, power lines, and bridges, makes it one of the most dangerous forms of winter weather.  As little as a quarter of an inch of freezing rain can create widespread power outages.  On February 13-14th of 2021,  arctic air at the surface, combined with warmer air aloft, along with a frontal boundary to bring significant amounts of ice, especially along and east of the Blue Ridge mountains.

When driving, ice can be very difficult to recognize.  The roadway may appear to be wet when in reality when appears to be water may actually be ice.  If the temperature outside is below freezing, ice can form on the roads, especially on bridges and overpasses.  When encountering ice, do not panic and do not stomp on your brakes.  It is safer to slowly decelerate to a stop. 

 

 

Winter infographics

 

 

Find us on social media:

You can also contact:

Phil Hysell (phil.hysell@noaa.gov) for additional information about NOAA's 2022 National Weather Winter Weather Preparedness Week.

Office

National Weather Service in Blacksburg on December 9th, 2017