The best time to prepare for severe winter weather is now, before temperatures drop significantly and staying safe and warm becomes a challenge.
Early Predictions for 2013-2014 Winter Season:
Winters in Virginia can vary each season and predicting severe winter weather far in advance is very difficult. NOAA's Annual Winter Outlook was recently announced by the agency's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, MD and predicts that a "neutral" ENSO, (El Nino Southern Oscillation - a combination of El Nino and La Nina) which was forecast to have developed by now, will make for one of the most challenging winter forecasts in years. NOAA went on to say that they had "low confidence" in their forecast. This climate pattern gives seasonal forecasters low confidence in how the US winter will unfold. According to NOAA, there is "little guidance" on how ENSO affects snow totals. Other climate factors can influence winter weather across the country. Some of these factors, such as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a prominent climate pattern, are difficult to predict more than one to two weeks in advance. The NAO adds uncertaintyto the winter outlook in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic portions of the country. For more information, click here.
Here are several steps you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this winter.
When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. It is very important to remember to take caution during extremely cold temperatures and severe winter weather to prevent injuries and illness, such as hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia occurs most commonly at very cold environmental temperatures, but can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water. Redness or pain in any skin area may be due to frostbite, an injury to the body that is caused by freezing.
During extreme cold or severe winter weather, take these precautions to lower your risk of illness:
Seek medical care if you suspect that you may be suffering from frostbite or hypothermia, as these are serious medical conditions.
Be mindful of the amount of time spent outdoors shoveling snow and removing debris after snowstorms. Dress warmly and work slowly to avoid exertion and to prevent back injury. Other steps to take to help prevent muscle and bone injury include:
Severe snow storms may limit visibility and create hazardous road conditions. If you must travel during severe weather, consider checking road conditions by visiting http://www.511virginia.org/. Should you become stranded, staying in until help can arrive is the safest thing to do.
Be sure to prepare an emergency kit for your car with items such as:
During a power outage, use flashlights instead of candles for lighting and keep extra batteries in stock. If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace or space heater, be extremely careful. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and remember these safety tips:
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is poisonous to breathe. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up when the exhaust from grills or generators is not properly vented. The gas emitted by these sources can linger for hours, even after the generator or grill has shut off. Operate all gasoline-powered devices such as generators outdoors and never bring them indoors.
If you suspect that you are experiencing CO poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Leave the home immediately and seek medical attention. Depending on the level of exposure, symptoms of carbon monoxide may resemble the flu.
Learn more about getting ready for winter weather: