Winter Storms Preparedness

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Ready Virginia - Winter Storm Preparedness

A winter storm can range from moderate snow over a few hours to blizzard conditions with blinding wind-driven snow that last several days. Some winter storms may be large enough to affect the entire Eastern Shore while others may affect only a single community. Winter storms are accompanied by low temperatures and blowing snow, which can severely reduce visibility. A severe winter storm is one that drops 4 or more inches of snow during a 12-hour period, or 6 or more inches during a 24-hour span. An ice storm occurs when freezing rain falls from clouds and freezes on impact. All winter storms can make driving and walking extremely hazardous.

11_east_point_roadThe aftermath of a winter storm can impact a community or region for days, weeks, and even months. Storm effects such as extreme cold, flooding, and snow accumulation can cause hazardous conditions and hidden problems for people in the affected area. Electrical, telephone, and cable lines may be damaged due to heavy ice accumulation or fallen tree limbs.

During the winter months, keep an eye on your local weather forecasts. When the forecast calls for severe winter weather, be sure to monitor your local radio, TV and/or NOAA Weather Radio stations for updated information. Listen for winter-related watches and warnings, and be ready to take action.

 When the weather turns cold, make sure that:

  • Yourself and your family are dressed warmly for cold exposure
  • You put a blanket or two in your vehicle for warmth if you are stranded in your vehicle
  • If a storm is predicted, stock up on 3 – 5 days of food and water supplies in case you are unable to leave your home.
  • Your vehicles' gas tanks are kept full to prevent freezing of gas lines
  • You will need a full tank of gas in case your vehicle becomes stuck in snow while traveling.
  • Also, propane and oil tanks used for power and heating should be kept stocked.

When a winter storm ADVISORY is issued winter weather conditions are expected to cause difficulty and might be dangerous.

  • These situations should not become life-threatening as long as caution is taken.
When a winter storm WATCH is issued severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow or ice, are possible within the next day or two.
  • Prepare now if you have not already done so.
  • Make sure your disaster supply kits are fully stocked, including food and water for 3 – 5 days
  • Make sure all vehicles are fueled up and winterized (with antifreeze, etc.)
  • Be sure animals and livestock are in a warm, dry place
When a winter storm WARNING is issued severe winter conditions have begun or are about to begin in your area.
  • Stay indoors if possible
  • Travel only if absolutely necessary
When a BLIZZARD STORM WARNING is issued snow and strong winds will combine to produce a blinding snow with near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill.
  • Stay indoors if possible
  • Travel only if absolutely necessary
Winter-Related Medical Emergencies
  • Frostbite: Frozen body tissue
  • Symptoms: Loss of feeling in the extremity and a white or pale appearance. Fingers, toes, ears and the tip of the nose are most susceptible.
  • Treatment: Get medical attention immediately. Affected area(s) should be slowly rewarmed.
Hypothermia: Occurs when the body's temperature falls below 95°F.
  • Symptoms: Uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and exhaustion.
  • Treatment: Get medical attention immediately. If you can’t get help quickly, begin warming the body slowly. Warm the body first, not the extremities. Get the victim into dry clothing and wrap in a warm blanket covering the head and neck. Do not give the victim alcohol, drugs, coffee or any hot beverage or food. Warm broth and food is better.
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