Georgetown, Del. (Thu., Nov. 30, 2017): Storms come and go from one season to the next, but the need to have a preparedness plan is a constant whatever the weather.
The Sussex County Emergency Operations Center reminds the public that preparation is a must before any season, whether it’s ahead of hurricane season that ends in November or the nor’easter season that runs from now until to March. Residents and property owners are encouraged to check supplies, monitor weather conditions, and take appropriate action if directed this winter season.
“The seasons are changing, but the message remains the same – always have a plan, and always be prepared for Mother Nature no matter the time of year,” Sussex County EOC Director Joseph L. Thomas said. “We were fortunate this year to see little in the way of tropical activity here in Delaware, but just because hurricane season is ending doesn’t meant we can stop thinking about the potential for hazardous weather. The winter months can bring their own brand of problems and difficulties, with snow, ice, and coastal flooding especially. So this is a great time to re-check your family’s preparedness kit and make sure your home or business is ready for the winter ahead.”
Over the years, Sussex County has experienced its fair share of harsh winter seasons, including the “polar vortex” that brought extreme cold to the region in early 2014, as well as back-to-back blizzards in 2009 and 2010 that closed schools, stranded motorists, scoured beaches, and knocked out power across the county.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s seasonal outlook for this winter (December through February) predicts equal chances for normal precipitation, with above average chances for warmer temperatures in Sussex County. Forecasters in mid-October, when the outlook was released, expected the development this season of a La Niña pattern, the phenomenon of cooling waters in the east-central Pacific Ocean that can have global effects. That often leads to drier and warmer conditions, particularly in the southeastern United States, though coastal storms, with their heavy rains, wind and flooding, could still form and spoil a milder winter stretch.
To ensure you are prepared for winter weather, whatever its form, the Sussex County EOC suggests the following preventive actions:
Before the Storm
- Spread an ice melting agent on walkways and driveways to keep surfaces free of ice; use sand to improve traction;
- Have snow shovels and other equipment handy;
- Winterize your vehicle:
- Ensure antifreeze levels are sufficient to avoid freezing;
- Ensure the heater and defroster work properly;
- Check lights and flashing hazard lights for serviceability;
- Pack a winterization kit that includes an ice scraper, de-icer for door locks, blankets, and sand or kitty litter to provide traction if your vehicle becomes stranded;
- Create a Safety Profile for your household with the County’s free Smart911.com service to provide potentially critical, life-saving information up front.
During the Storm
- Listen to television, radio, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information. Also, visit the Sussex County EOC website and its social media channels, including Facebook at www.facebook.com/SussexCountyEOC and Twitter at twitter.com/SussexCtyDE_EOC, for up-to-date information;
- Eat regularly and drink ample fluids; avoid caffeine and alcohol;
- Conserve fuel and power, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms;
- Limit unnecessary travel and heed all advisories and warnings.
Dress for the Weather
- Wear layers of loose-fitting, thin, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellant;
- Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves, as well as a hat;
- Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
For more winter weather information and helpful tips, please visit the Sussex County website at sussexcountyde.gov/emergency-preparedness and click on the ‘Other Hazards’ link on the left to download a useful guide about preparing for winter storms and other types of hazardous events.