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Winter and Disaster Prep

A Warmer Winter Shouldn’t Stop You from Planning Ahead

Photos: Courtesy of Craig Lassig/Weather Group Television, LLC.

The Weather Channel’s Stephanie Abrams offers advice on preparing for this winter, which is predicted to be another warm season.

No matter where you are in the country, the time to prepare for the cold months is now, whether that means ensuring heaters are in working condition or preparing to be locked in the house during a snowstorm. In keeping with recent seasonal trends, this winter looks like it’s going to be on the warmer side, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

“The last five years rank as the top five hottest, so that’s not a great trend,” said Stephanie Abrams, meteorologist for The Weather Channel.“The warming trend has been happening and unfortunately looks like it’s going to continue.”

An unseasonable season

The 2019-2020 winter season ranks as the second hottest on record, 0.96 degrees hotter than the 20th century average. The hottest year came in 2016 at 0.99 degrees hotter than average. And climate change is causing average temperatures to rise all across the country. Southern states are very likely to experience higher than average temperatures from December to February, while northeastern states should also expect slightly higher temperatures.

“It looks like it’s still pretty warm through a big chunk of the country, especially the southern half of the country,” Abrams said. The south also looks like it’s going to have less precipitation than normal this year. She clarified, “It doesn’t mean you’re not going to have any rain or snow, but it’s below average.”

Stay ready

Despite the warming temperatures, Abrams warned not to skip winter preparations, which could save you when that unexpected cold snap comes.

“Something that we always preach on weather channels is no matter where you are you have to be prepared,” Abrams said. “There’s that one snowstorm in the south every few years and then you’re stuck. The key is to always be prepared — making sure your fireplace is cleaned, getting your heaters in good working order — because the last thing you want is your heater breaking in the middle of a snowstorm.”

The home is the most obvious place to start thinking of winter preparation, but just as important is making a plan for your car, especially in northern states where precipitation is expected to be above average this year.

“How many times have we seen people getting stuck in their cars during a big storm?” Abrams said. “Have your winter kit with your supplies: sand in case you get stuck in snow, blankets, first aid kit.”

Layer up outside

Those planning on outdoor excursions such as hiking or camping should likewise be mindful that preparing for the worst is essential even during a warm winter. “People that are hiking should make sure they’re prepared for the worst-case scenario when they go out when it comes to food and layers,” Abrams said. She also encouraged hikers and campers to ensure they had reliable mobile phone or internet coverage to be able to contact for help if necessary.

For Abrams, preparation need not be complicated, but in some cases more really is more. “I think the key to winter is layer, layer, layer, and layer more,” she said. “You can easily take off, wrap around your waist, [or] put [a layer] in your bag, but when you don’t have that extra layer, you’re miserable. I find the best tip for winter is more is better.”

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