Winter Storms

Winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. Winter storms including blizzards can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice and high winds. We do see snow occasionally, but more often we see ice, Nor'easters. and very cold temperatures.

A winter storm can:Winter weather products

  • Last a few hours or several days.
  • Cut off heat, power and communication services.
  • Put older adults, children, sick individuals and pets at greater risk.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington  issues winter weather watches and warnings for our area.  Remember that:

  • A statement or advisory means that weather may be developing at some point that you need to pay attention to.
  • A watch means that conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather.  It means to monitor and be ready to act if conditions worsen.
  • A warning is an action item - severe weather conditions have been seen or reported, and you need to do something to protect life and property

A easy way to think about it is to think of cupcakes.

  • You've decided you want cupcakes and you say "I think I want cupcakes sometime later today." That's a statement or advisory.
  • You visit the store and buy all of the ingredients to make cupcakes.  You have them all measured out and ready, the cupcake foils are in the tins, the oven is warming up, and you follow the recipe.  That's a watch.
  • You have successfully made and frosted the cupcakes and are ready to eat them!  All of the ingredients came together to make the richest most delicious cupcake. That's a warning.

Image of ingredients for a cupcake (watch) and finished cupcake (warning)

  • Know your risk. Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms. Listen for emergency information and alerts. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  • Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking and weather stripping. 
  • Learn how to keep pipes from freezing. Winter car prep
  • Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups. 
  • Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Remember the needs of your pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights. 
  • Be prepared for winter weather at home, at work and in your car. Create an emergency supply kit for your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a  flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water and non-perishable snacks. Keep a full tank of gas.
  • If you are unable to afford your cooling costs, weatherization or energy-related home repairs, contact the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) through New Hanover County HHS for help.