"We've had a very warm and pleasant fall, but we know it may not last," N.C. Crime Control and Public Safety Secretary Reuben Young said. "Many parts of our state saw several snowfalls last year and our mountains and foothills were especially hard hit in December and January.”
Jeff Orrock, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the forecasts are calling for a drier than normal winter due to La Nina. However, he cautioned that a big storm or two is not out of the question. The record heavy snow that struck much of the state in January 2000 occurred during a La Nina cycle. La Nina cycles can also mean an increase in freezing rain and wintry mixes due to the warmer temperatures.
It is important that all citizens monitor changing weather conditions by listening carefully to their National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio, local radio and television stations for storm watches or warnings. When winter weather warnings are issued, the public should be prepared for possible power outages or roads made impassable by snow or ice.
Young urged residents to practice the following winter safety tips:
*Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.
*Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep any electric generators OUTSIDE and away from any open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, do not burn charcoal indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from charcoal fumes indoors.
*Keep fresh batteries on hand to use with flashlights and weather radios.
*Always keep at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food in your home.
*Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing to stay warm. You will be warmer and, as the temperature changes, you can easily remove layers to remain comfortable.
*If you must travel during a winter storm, store an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes: blankets, a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, a first aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, battery booster cables and flares, a tire repair kit and pump, a road map, a sack of cat litter (for tire traction), a tow rope, bottled water and non-perishable high-energy foods such as granola bars, extra clothing to keep dry, and a windshield scraper and brush.
*If driving on snow- or ice-covered roadways, reduce your speed. Driving at the regular speed limit will reduce your ability to control the car if you begin to slide. Leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles.
*If conditions worsen and you can no longer drive safely, pull off the highway. Stay calm and remain in your vehicle. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter.
Young warned that most deaths attributed to winter storms result from indirect dangers such as traffic accidents, falling trees, downed power lines, house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from improper use of space heaters, grills and stoves. The Department of Crime Control and Public Safety and the National Weather Service work together to give the public the most up-to-date and accurate weather and safety information to help citizens take the proper measures to protect themselves and their loved ones from the effects of dangerous winter storms.
For more information on how to prepare for winter storms, visit www.readync.org. To keep up with the latest forecast and warning, visit www.weather.gov.