Winter Storm Preparations

Winter StormMillions of people in the Northeast are bracing for Winter Storm Juno, which will become a major snowstorm today and through Wednesday with the potential for blizzard conditions and more than 2 feet of snow.

The high confidence in forecast wind and snowfall led the National Weather Service to issue blizzard warnings well in advance of the storm from the New Jersey shore all the way to down to east Maine, including the cities of New York City, Boston, Providence, Hartford and Portland. Most of the warnings are in effect from Monday afternoon or evening through late Tuesday night.

At least 28 million people are in the zone of potential blizzard conditions, and millions more will see enough snow to complicate travel.

The National Weather Service is urging all residents to rushed preparations to completion by today for this major winter storm. Do not proceed with any travel plans in the affected areas late Monday and Tuesday or you could put yourself in great danger. Prepare for power outages both during and in the days after the storm.

  • Add the following supplies to your disaster kit in preparation for winter weather:
    • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
    • Sand to improve traction
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
    • Also include adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and windowsills to keep the warm air inside.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural stability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
  • If you have a car, fill the gas tank in case you have to leave. In addition, check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
    • Antifreeze levels – ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
    • Battery and ignition system – should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
    • Brakes – check for wear and fluid levels.
    • Exhaust system – check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
    • Fuel and air filters – replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas.
    • Heater and defroster – ensure they work properly.
    • Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability.
    • Oil – check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
    • Thermostat – ensure it works properly.
    • Tires – make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
    • Windshield wiper equipment – repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify winter weather
  • Freezing Rain creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.
  • Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Nor’easter’s are winter storms that move north up the East Coast of the United States. Severe nor’easters can bring high winds, heavy precipitation, and low temperatures.
  • Winter Weather Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected.
  • Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.
  • Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.
  • Blizzard Warning means heavy snow and strong winds will produce a blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill.
  • Frost/Freeze Warning means below freezing temperatures are expected.
When a Winter Storm WATCH is issued
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, and television stations, or cable television such as The Weather Channel for further updates.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel
When a Winter Storm WARNING is issued
  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • If you must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
  • Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must…Carry an Emergency Supply Kit in the trunk.
  • Keep your car’s gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
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