A severe winter storm with double-digit snowfall totals and potential white-out conditions is just around the corner. Many roads will be impassable and businesses may be shut down. Now is the time to prepare.
What’s so remarkable about this impending storm is the long duration of wintry precipitation. Snow looks likely to start falling as early as Friday afternoon and continue as long as Sunday afternoon. That means there could be 48 hours, likely longer, when roads will be slippery at best, and treacherous at worst.
The preparations you make over the next day or two should be to prevent any need to get in the car. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, around 70 percent of winter weather-related deaths occur in automobiles. This is avoidable, especially since we have so much time to prepare.
With blizzard conditions expected — heavy blowing snow and wind gusts to 40 mph — you really won’t want to even leave the house. The safest place will be indoors.
Do you have enough food for your family for the long weekend? You will not be able to order delivery — they won’t be able to drive on the icy roads, either. Do you have enough toilet paper? Enough water in case the pump fails? What if the power goes out — do you have the supplies you need in a convenient location?
Winter storm best practices
Shop ahead and make sure you have enough food to get you through Monday. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to stock up on just bread and milk — go ahead and get whatever you normally shop for. The Capital Weather Gang’s Kathryn Prociv suggests quick and easy things like peanut butter and jelly, or non-perishables like soup so that they won’t spoil if you don’t get through them this weekend. And don’t forget the pet food!
Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning! “Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area,” says ready.gov. “Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Keep these devices at least 20 feet from doors, windows, and vents.”
Make sure you have enough of your prescription drugs to last through the weekend.
If you MUST drive, do so during the day, and don’t drive alone. Don’t take the back roads which will be untreated. Try to stay on main roads that road crews frequently plow.
Make sure you have flashlights and the correct batteries for the flashlights in case the power goes out. Test your flashlights tonight or tomorrow so you know if you need to run out and get more.
Get any supplies out of the attic and the basement before the storm starts so you don’t have to navigate if the power goes out.
CWG photographer and winter weather enthusiast Kevin Ambrose also recommends to gas up and power on the snow blower before the storm hits, just to make sure it’s working properly. “I let it idle for about 20 minutes, turn it off, then move it to the front of the garage,” Ambrose said. “When it’s needed the next day in the snow, it fires up quickly and is ready to go.”
Pre-treat driveways and walkways, which will make shoveling easier when the time comes. Shovel periodically through the storm instead of waiting until the end, which will be back-breaking work.
If your office has the option to telecommute, bring your laptop home Thursday evening, says Camden Walker. We still don’t know exactly when snow will begin but there’s certainly a chance that some offices will decide to close that day out of an abundance of caution.
If your neighborhood tends to lose power in these situations, it may be a good idea to stock up propane for your gas grill so you can still cook. “In Feb. 2003, I cooked in the snow on my back deck after losing power,” Ambrose said.
DO NOT leave your pets outside. Doing so would be cruel and would in all likelihood lead to their death.
Remember your elderly family members and neighbors. Make sure they have enough supplies to last the weekend if they are staying home by themselves. If possible, consider having them stay with you.
Don’t be afraid of the storm. It’s good to be prepared, but it’s not something to fear. “I stock up on party food and drinks because crippling snowstorms can spontaneously create neighborhood parties,” said Ambrose. “At least they do on my cul-de-sac.”
Items that may come in handy:
Candles (be careful!)
Matches or lighters
Extra hats, socks and mittens
Portable battery to charge mobile devices