Winter weather

Here’s guidance from the National Weather Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to help you in case of severe winter storms in your area.

  1. Know your area’s risk. Winter storms can leave communities without power for days. Monitor your local weather service to check if a winter storm is coming.
  2. Make a plan. Create a plan that includes the steps your family will take in response to a winter storm. This should include preparations for utility and power outages.
  3. Recognize warnings and alerts for winter weather. It is important in all disasters that you recognize your community’s warning system.

    National Weather Service definitions , opens new window

    Winter Weather Advisory: Issued when freezing rain or 2 to 4 inches of snow (or a combination) is expected.

    Blizzard Watch or Warning: A blizzard event is imminent or expected in the next 12–36 hours.

    Ice Storm Warning: An ice storm event is expected to meet or exceed local warnings and leave one-half inch or more of ice.

    Winter Storm Watch: There is the potential for significant and hazardous winter weather within 48 hours. It does not mean that significant and hazardous winter weather will occur, it only means it is possible.

    Winter Storm Warning: A winter storm with heavy sleet, heavy snow, ice, or a combination is expected in the next 12–36 hours.

    Lake Effect Snow Warning: Lake effect snow is expected in the next 12–36 hours. This may include widespread or localized lake-induced snow squalls or heavy snow showers.

    Wind Chill Warning: Wind chill temperatures are expected to meet or exceed local warnings in the next 12–36 hours and may reach or exceed -25 degrees.

  4. Build a car kit. Make sure you have a kit in your car with essential supplies specific for winter weather. Your supplies should include spare gloves, hats, blankets, jumper cables, a flashlight, a shovel, sand, and bottled water. Also remember to keep a full tank of gas.
  5. Prepare your home.
    1. Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls so your water supply will be less likely to freeze.
    2. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
    3. Insulate walls and attic.
    4. Install storm or thermal-pane windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
    5. Repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on your home or other structure during a storm.

Disaster checklist

Build your own emergency kit