Forsyth County encourages residents to prepare for cold spells: Winter Weather Preparedness Week is Dec. 3-9

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 7, 2023

FORSYTH COUNTY — It is Winter Weather Preparedness Week and state and local officials are joining Gov. Roy Cooper to encourage North Carolinians to plan and prepare now, before potentially dangerous winter weather arrives.  

“Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for winter weather. Start today by making sure your emergency supply kit is up to date, stay informed about weather forecasts, and review your family emergency plans with everyone in your home so everyone knows what to do in case a winter storm or any event impacts your area,” said August Vernon, director of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Emergency Management. 

North Carolina’s proximity to the Appalachian Mountains, Atlantic Ocean, Gulf Stream and Gulf of Mexico creates complex winter weather forecasts. This winter, the state will likely be impacted by an El Niño pattern, which favors above normal precipitation across the state.  

The North Carolina State Climate Office predicts that it will take a while for us to see most of the impact of  these weather changes but expect a shift to wetter-than-normal conditions to arrive in January or February. While seasonal snow forecasts are complicated, historical odds favor at least one measurable snowfall for most of the state this winter. During winter weather events, emergency managers advise that the best way to stay safe is to stay informed and pay close attention to the latest forecast using local media or a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio and be alert for changing weather conditions. It’s important to know what different winter weather headlines mean and even though the criteria for winter weather watches, warnings and advisories vary across North Carolina they all have the same premises, so remember:  

  • Winter storm watch: issued when conditions are favorable for either heavy snow, sleet or freezing rain within the next 24-48 hours.
  • Winter storm warning: issued when confidence is high that a winter storm will cause significant impacts within the next 12-36 hours.
  • Winter weather advisory: issued when wintry weather is expected and residents should exercise caution as light to moderate amounts of snow, sleet or freezing rain are expected within the next 12-36 hours, causing travel difficulties.

To help ensure residents are ready for winter weather, emergency managers suggest keeping at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food as well as medications in your home, along with fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights. Be sure to dress warmly by wearing multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing. 

When using alternative heating sources be sure you know how to safely operate them. It’s especially important to properly vent kerosene heaters and keep any electric generators outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning; and never burn charcoal indoors. It’s also important to keep a fire extinguisher on hand.  

If residents must travel during bad weather, emergency officials remind motorists to leave plenty of room between them and other vehicles and, if driving on snow- or ice-covered roadways, reduce speed. If conditions worsen, pull off the roadway and remain in the vehicle. Do not set out on foot unless close by buildings are visible. Residents should also store an emergency kit in their vehicle that includes a scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first aid kit and a road map. 

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

  • Make an emergency supplies kit for your pet and include medical records, first aid kit, enough  canned/dry food and water for three to seven days and a pet travel bag or carrier.  
  • Do not leave pets outside for long periods of time. 
  • Ensure your pet has 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.