Welcome to the 13News Now Winter Weather Guide as we keep you "Weather Ready" during this winter season. 13News Now is a proud Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador.
Below you will find plenty of useful tips and information to keep you and your family safe when winter weather threatens the Hampton Roads area.
Be sure to tune in to 13News Now on-air and online for regular updates from Hampton Roads' largest, most experienced, and certified most accurate team of meteorologists: 13News Now Chief Meteorologist Jeff Lawson, Evan Stewart, Iisha Scott, Tim Pandajis, and Crystal Harper. Follow us @13NewsNow on Twitter and send us your pics with the hashtag #13StormMode
WINTER STORM WATCH: Conditions exist for the possible occurrence of severe winter weather such as blizzard conditions, heavy snow, significant freezing rain or heavy sleet. Usually issued 12 to 36 hours in advance of the winter storm.
WINTER STORM WARNING: Issued when heavy snow, significant freezing rain or heavy sleet is expected to occur. Usually issued 6 to 18 hours in advance of the winter storm.
WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW: A snowfall within 12 hours of usually 1 to 2 inches.
WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR FREEZING RAIN: A glaze of ice is expected from freezing rain that may hamper travel.
WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR BLOWING & DRIFTING SNOW: Blowing and drifting snow will occasionally reduce visibility to an eighth of a mile or less with significant drifting in open areas.
WIND CHILL ADVISORY: Wind chill temperatures are expected to be -5° to –20° Fahrenheit (F) for an extended period of time..
WIND CHILL WARNING: Issued for wind chills below –20° Fahrenheit (F) for an extended period of time.
BLIZZARD WATCH: Conditions exist for the possible occurrence of sustained or gusty winds of 35 m.p.h. or more are expected to reduce visibility at or below a quarter of mile for a least 3 hours. Usually issued 12 to 36 hours in advance of the start of blizzard conditions.
BLIZZARD WARNING: Issued when sustained or gusty winds of 35 m.p.h. or more are expected to reduce visibility at or below a quarter of mile for a least 3 hours. Usually issued 6 to 18 hours in advance of the start of blizzard conditions.
FREEZING RAIN: Rain that freezes upon contact with a cold surface.
SLEET: Solid grains of ice that form from rain that freezes before reaching the ground. These pellets of ice tend to bounce upon contact and may accumulate enough to cover the ground, even to a depth of several inches.
FREEZING FOG: Freezing fog occurs when the water droplets that the fog is composed of are "supercooled". Supercooled water droplets remain in the liquid state until they come into contact with a surface upon which they can freeze.
SNOW FLURRY: A brief instance of light snow with very little or no accumulation of snow on the ground.
SNOW SQUALL: An intense fall of accumulating snow reducing visibility significantly and often accompanied by increased winds.
BAY EFFECT SNOW: Snow that is generated from the Chesapeake Bay and can be quite heavy over one area and non-existent in another area within a short distance.
HEAVY SNOW: 6 inches or more of snow in 24 hours for widespread snow and 6 inches in 12 hours for lake effect snow.
Remaining indoors protected from the elements is the safest place during a winter storm. The primary concern of indoor shelter is the potential loss of heat, power, telephone service and a shortage of supplies if the storm persists for more than a day. Keep the following available:
Create a Winter Emergency Kit
Flashlight with extra batteries
Battery powered NOAA weather radio and portable AM/FM radio
Extra food and water, especially high energy food that requires no cooking or refrigeration such as dried fruit and canned goods (Don't forget the non-electric can opener)
Medicine, First Aid supplies and ample baby supplies
Emergency heating source, such as a stocked fireplace, wood stove, or space heater
Smoke detector and fire extinguisher since the chance of fire increases dramatically using alternative heating!
Don't forget to protect the pipes in your home during freezing temperatures! Leave cupboard doors open to your kitchen sink, so warm air reaches the pipes.
Allow a steady drip of cold water to flow from the highest faucet in your home (using cold instead of hot water will save you money on your energy bill). Moving water will not freeze.
Make sure your outdoor faucets are covered to protect them from the wind, and that they're detached from hoses.
Locate your private water shut-off valve so you can be prepared to turn off your water if the pipes do freeze and burst.
About 70% of deaths during an ice or snow storm occur in a vehicle! If you wonder if you should attempt to travel, then don't! If you must travel, then allow extra time. Reduce your speed and do not attempt to make sudden turns or stops. Winterize the vehicle so it will be reliable. This includes a good set of tires.
Putting hand sanitizer on your keys can help you get through an icy lock.
If your ice scraper and good old fashioned muscle isn't enough, mix together 2 parts vinegar and one part water and spray the solution on your windows and watch the ice melt away!
Pop up your windshield wipers before the snow and ice hits. Pro-tip: Cover them with old socks to keep them nice and dry and ice-free.
Parking your car with your windshield facing east will allow the sun to do some of the work and melt away snow and ice from your windshield.
Filling a sock with kitty litter and placing it on your dashboard will help keep windows from fogging up. So will applying a very thin layer of shaving cream to the inside of the windshield.
Make sure your ceiling fans are running clockwise to push warm air back to floor level, keeping your house just a bit warmer.
Letting your faucets drip will help keep the pipes in your home from freezing. So will opening up any cabinet doors where pipes are present, as it will allow warmer air in the home to circulate around the pipes.
Avoid this frozen scenario by sliding a Ziploc bag over your side mirrors before the storm moves through. Secure with rubber bands or clothespins.
Bike rider? Attach zip ties to your tires to allow for traction in snow and ice. (Credit: Screengrab via YouTube)
Run out of snow or icemelt? Make your own at home with stuff you probably have on hand: mix together one teaspoon of dishwashing detergent, one tablespoon of rubbing alcohol and a half gallon of hot water. Pour it over your sidewalks and stairways.
Another winter weather hack for kitty litter! Keeping a box in your trunk gives your car added weight and helps with traction. It's also great to pour around your tires to help get your car rolling. No kitty litter? Car mats work for traction, too.
An easy way to weatherproof your house: cut bubble wrap to size of your window, spray a small amount of water onto the windows and apply the bubble wrap. Poof!
If you must do some shoveling, here's a tip for you: Spray non-stick cooking spray onto your shovel and all the snow and ice will slide right off.
If your house is heated via radiator, slide a piece of aluminum foil between the unit and the wall to reflect the heat back into the room. Works for space heaters, too.
Spraying locks with WD-40 ahead of a storm can keep them from becoming frozen. (Credit: WD-40)
Virginia Natural Gas advises customers to follow these safety tips when winter weather arrives:
Exercise caution removing snow or ice from your natural gas meter. Use your hands or a broom, not a shovel or mechanized equipment, to brush away snow or ice from your outdoor meter. Never kick or hit your gas meter or its piping with a hammer or any hard object to break away built-up snow or ice.
Following a weather emergency, ensure the natural gas meter is visible at all times and accessible to emergency responders.
Heavy snow and ice may weigh down power lines and tree limbs, causing them to fall. If a natural gas meter is damaged or gas line is exposed, immediately leave the area and call the Virginia Natural Gas 24-hour emergency response line, at 1-877-572-3342, from a safe location.
To ensure the safe, proper operation of natural gas appliances, such as a furnace and water heater, and to prevent a potentially hazardous buildup of carbon monoxide within your home, make sure that outdoor vent openings and air intakes are not obstructed by snow or ice. Some direct-vent and high-efficiency equipment have outdoor vents and air intakes that are connected to the appliance and are directly located on the exterior wall of a home or business.
Protecting Your Pets
A temperature of 32° Fahrenheit (F) or below is too cold for any pet to tolerate. The physical stress of cold temperatures can make pets more susceptible to illness or infection. Don't forget the animals during a winter storm! Most animal deaths during a storm are caused by dehydration from frozen water.
Provide outdoor dogs and cats with a dry, insulated pet house or shelter out of the wind. Staying warm demands extra calories, so increase your pet's food intake (particularly protein).
Remove ice, salt and caked on mud from your pet's paws and coat right away. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has frostbite. Frostbitten skin may turn reddish, white or gray and it may be scaly or sloughing.
Pets like the smell and taste of antifreeze, but even a small amount can kill them.
Don't use metal water dishes outside as your pets tongue could stick to the frozen metal.
Dogs confined to the house because of winter weather may lack proper exercise and suffer depression. Help by giving more attention and encouraging them to be active.