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Officials urge winter preparedness

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

While earlier predictions of snow this weekend in the Twin Counties have softened, Nash County emergency officials encourage residents to prepare for inevitable winter weather.

Temperatures are expected to dip later this week with thermometers reading in the low 40s after early morning lows in the mid to upper 20s, according to information from Nick Petro, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh.

"While wintry precipitation is still possible this weekend, it remains a low confidence forecast with respect to chances, locations and amounts of said wintry precipitation," Petro said. "However, confidence that precipitation in some form or another will occur through the majority of this time period is high."

Whether or not it snows this weekend, emergency officials want all residents to be sure they are prepared for winter weather in the months ahead, said Brent Fisher, assistant director of Nash County Emergency Management and Fire-Rescue Services.

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 six to 12 winter storms in the Piedmont, 12 or more winter storms in the mountains and usually less than four winter storms that impact the coastal counties, according to state and local emergency officials.

Residents should monitor changing weather conditions by listening to local media and paying close attention to winter weather warnings, Fisher said.

“Take time now to review emergency plans, update emergency supply kits and always stay informed about weather forecasts," Fisher said.

A Winter Storm Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for either heavy snow, sleet or freezing rain within the next 48 hours, while a Winter Storm Warning is issued when at least three inches of snow or ice accumulations of a quarter-inch or more are likely within the next 24 hours. A Winter Weather Advisory is issued when one to three inches of snow or ice accumulations of less than a quarter-inch are expected within the next 24 hours, causing travel difficulties.

Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center are expecting a weak El Nino pattern to develop and influence weather conditions this winter. An El Niño pattern favors wetter than normal conditions across the southeastern United States during the winter months, said state Emergency Management Meteorologist Kevin Kalbaugh.

“A wetter than normal winter does not necessarily mean a snowier winter,” Kalbaugh said. “Long-range snow forecasts are pretty much impossible, but we have an increased potential of seeing above normal precipitation between December and February.”

Gov. Roy Cooper has proclaimed Dec. 2-8 as Winter Weather Preparedness Week to help ensure folks are ready for winter weather. 

State and local emergency management officials urge residents 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 open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Never 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 family members knows how to use each one.

■ Store an emergency kit in vehicles. Include scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand or salt, blankets, flashlight, first aid kit and road map.

■ If anyone must travel during bad weather leave plenty of room between vehicles and, if driving on snow- or ice-covered roadways, reduce speed. If conditions worsen, pull off the highway and remain in vehicle. Do not set out on foot unless a building is close where shelter can be taken.

Don’t forget to include pets in emergency plans. To keep animals safe during winter weather, emergency management officials recommend:

■ Make an emergency supplies kit for pets and include medical records, first aid kit, enough canned/dry food and water for three to seven days and pet travel bag or carrier.

■ Do not leave pets outside for long periods of time.

■ Ensure pets have a well-fitting collar.

■ Bring pets inside when temperatures drop below freezing.

■ Move livestock and other animals to a sheltered location with food and water.

For more information on how to prepare for winter storms, check the ReadyNC app on your smartphone.

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