Ginger Zee, chief meteorologist at ABC News, shares her tips for preparing for tough winter weather, no matter where you live.
How do you think homeowners can best prepare for the cold winter months?
Since this year’s energy costs are expected to rise up almost 30%, I would encourage everyone to take the simple steps to save money and potentially save your life. There are several new programs to get tax refunds thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act. Check out where you can save and prepare for winter at rewiringamerica.org/app/ira-calculator.
I sound like my mom, but you seriously need winter survival gear in your vehicle if you live anywhere that snow and ice can form. When those big ice and snow debacles happen — like last year in Virginia when folks were stuck for more than 12 hours on the highway running out of gas — you need to have food, water, and survival gear (warm clothing, boots, flares, etc).
What are some extreme weather conditions we can face during the winter?
Winter doesn’t always mean just snow. Freezing rain, for example, falls as rain, but it falls on sub-freezing surfaces and freezes on contact, making a glaze of ice. This is where a sidewalk can become an ice rink and roads can become frictionless in less than an hour.
When it comes to snow, remember that it doesn’t take much to make roads difficult. The National Weather Service has been using a new product the past few winters that warns of lake effect snow squalls — they call it snow squall warning. This is a critical warning to pay attention to; if you are driving, visibility can drop within seconds to nearly zero. Please take these warnings seriously and pull over if you are driving. Most squalls last only 15-30 minutes.
Also, pay close attention to changes in track. Every mile can make a difference, especially on the rain/snow line. Our science has gotten very good at predicting within three days, but we can’t get the resolution down to your house yet, so watch it carefully for shifts and remember that wind can be another impactful factor, even far from the center of the storm.
What are some resources that we can use to make it through a winter storm?
Resources in a winter storm include medications you might need if roads are closed for a few days, food and water to sustain through potential power outages for you and your pets, and a battery-operated or crank radio to keep up with information if devices die. Information is power. There are so many great external battery sources now, so it’s always good to have the ability to get a call out for emergency. The carbon monoxide deaths after a storm like this are too high — being sure you have a battery backup carbon monoxide monitor is key.