Governor Pat McCrory has declared Dec. 11-17 as Winter Weather Preparedness Week and is urging North Carolinians to plan, prepare and be ready for potentially dangerous winter weather.
“While our attention in recent months has been on floods, hurricanes, droughts and wildfires, we’re all too aware that winter storms also can bring severe impacts to North Carolina,” said Governor McCrory. “We’ve seen our fair share of snow and ice storms in recent years and need to expect the unexpected during this time of year. I urge all individuals and families to review emergency plans, update their emergency supply kits and stay informed.”
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 12 or more winter storms in the mountains, six to 12 winter storms in the Piedmont and usually less than four winter storms that impact the coastal region.
“Many of our families are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew and the other disasters that befell our state,” explained state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “Local and federal emergency management officials are working daily with impacted communities to help them recover from these record storms. But it is critical that we also ensure that we are prepared for any winter storms. We do our best to make sure everyone has the information they need to stay safe. Weather conditions can change quickly, so it’s important to stay alert and plan ahead to help protect your family this winter.”
Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center are expecting La Nina to influence winter conditions this year. Unlike El Nino, La Nina involves a cooling of the ocean that favors warmer and drier winters in the south.
Governor McCrory urged people to monitor changing weather conditions by listening carefully to local media. When winter weather warnings are issued, be prepared for possible power outages or dangerous driving conditions. Remember: Watch means severe winter conditions could occur, while Warning indicates that 4+ inches of snow or sleet are expected within 12 hours. Advisories indicate that winter weather conditions are expected to cause delays and problems.
To help ensure you are ready for winter weather, North Carolina Emergency Management officials urge you to:
- Always keep at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food in your home
- 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 any open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not 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 winter weather, emergency officials remind motorists to drive safely. It’s important to leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles and if driving on snow or ice covered roadways, reduce speed. If conditions worsen, be sure to 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 and First Lady Ann McCrory are also encouraging North Carolinians to take additional steps to ensure their pets are safe this winter.
“For many of us, pets are part of our families, and it is especially important in winter to be sure they are protected,” said Governor McCrory. “Remember to include your pets in your winter preparations by ensuring that you have a plan in place and supplies available to keep them safe when winter storms strike.”
To keep your animals safe during winter, emergency management officials recommend that you:
- Check under your warming car for animals and wipe your pets’ paws after walks to remove chemicals
- Make an emergency supplies kit for your pet
- 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. Pets are susceptible to frostbite, hypothermia, dehydration and other medical conditions
- Move livestock and other animals to a sheltered location with food and water.
Governor McCrory is reminding North Carolinians to include pets in their family's emergency plan and when updating supply kits this winter with the following items:
- Pet travel bag or carrier;
- Medical records, first aid kit and a two-week medicine supply;
- Muzzle, collar and/or leash;
- Enough canned/dry food and water for three to seven days;
- Proper identification and immunization records; and
- Pet beds, blankets, toys and disposable litter trays.
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.
For more information on how to prepare for winter storms, download the free ReadyNC app, which provides real-time information on traffic and weather conditions plus open shelters and items needed in an emergency supplies kit, or visit ReadyNC.org.