Winter Weather

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Winter Weather PreparednessNWS

Preparing your Home

  • Insulate exposed pipes and cover outdoor faucets to help prevent freezing.
  • Open doors below sinks to allow warm air to reach the pipes.
  • Locate the main water shut-off valve. If a pipe breaks somewhere in your house, the water can be turned off at this main valve.
  • Prepare emergency supplies, bottled water, and non-perishable food items in your home.
  • Have a carbon monoxide alarm in place, especially if using alternative heating devices.

Travel Safety

  • Stay off the roads if at all possible! 
  • Drive slowly. Even if the roads just look wet, they could be slippery!
  • Make sure your vehicle is completely clear of snow and ice before starting your trip. Flying snow from cars can cause accidents. 
  • Keep emergency supplies in your vehicle in case you get stuck.

Preparing for your Pets

  • Make sure to bring your pets indoors when the temperature drops.
  • Wipe off your animal’s paws after each trip outside. Ice-melting chemicals or rock salt can cause irritation and injury.

Use Safe Heating Devices

  • Place heaters at least 3 feet away from furniture, window treatments, bedding, clothing, rugs, and other combustibles.
  • Upon leaving an area, turn off the portable space heater and unplug it.

Keep yourself healthy!

It is important to dress appropriately for the weather when going outside and recognize the signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

Signs of Frostbite

  • First degree: Ice crystals are forming on your skin.
  • Second degree: Skin begins to feel warm even though it is not yet defrosted.
  • Third degree: Skin turns red, pale or white.
  • Fourth degree: Pain lasts for more than a few hours and skin may develop dark blue or black. See a doctor immediately if these symptoms arise. Gangrene is a real threat.

Signs of Hypothermia

  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Excessive shivering and body temperature below 96 degrees
  • Disorientation
  • Drowsiness
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech

NWS 2


Know the Terms


Winter Storm Outlook - Issued when there is a good chance of a major winter weather event beyond 36 hours.

Winter Storm Watch - Issued when the following conditions are possible within 12 to 36 hours: heavy snowfall of 4 or more inches in 12 hours or 6 or more inches in 24 hours; freezing rain and/or freezing drizzle accumulating to a depth of 0.25 inches or greater; or heavy sleet accumulating to a depth of 1/2 inch or more.

Winter Storm Warning - Issued when the hazardous winter weather conditions defined above are occurring or expected to occur within 12 hours.

Freeze Warning - Issued for the first occurrence of freezing temperatures in the fall, for late freezes during the spring, or for a freeze expected to occur after a prolonged warm spell.

Winter Weather Advisory - Issued when either or all of the following are expected: snow accumulations less than 4 inches in 6 hours, or less than 6 inches in 24 hours; freezing rain accumulation less than 0.25 inch; OR freezing drizzle with little or no accumulation.

Wind Chill Advisory - Issued when forecast wind chill values will be below -20 degrees.

Heavy Snow - Snowfall which accumulates to a depth of at least 4 inches in 12 hours or 6 inches in 24 hours.

Sleet - Pellets of ice composed of frozen or mostly frozen raindrops, or snowflakes which have melted and refrozen.

Freezing Rain/Freezing Drizzle - Rain or drizzle which falls as liquid then freezes when it strikes the ground or other surface.

Frost - The formation of thin ice crystals on the ground or other surfaces.

Wind Chill - A cooling effect caused when wind blows across exposed skin.