As seasons change, wardrobes may shift from shorts and flip-flops to sweaters and snow boots. But the constant for any season is the need to be prepared for extreme 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 runs from June to November or the nor’easter season that spans October to March. Residents are encouraged to check supplies, monitor weather conditions, and take appropriate action if directed this winter season.
“Extreme weather doesn’t know a fixed month or date on the calendar. It’s a possibility year-round,” Sussex County EOC Director Joseph L. Thomas said. “High winds, flooding, heavy snow, and ice are just some of the many effects we can see this time of year, especially during coastal storms. A lot of attention is paid to hurricane season, and rightfully so. But the public needs to be ready for weather this time of year, which can be equally as disruptive and damaging to people and property.”
Over the years, Sussex County has experienced harsh winter seasons, including the “polar vortex” that brought extreme cold to the region in early 2014. Meanwhile, repeated coastal storms and back-to-back blizzards in 2009 and 2010 closed schools, stranded motorists, and knocked out power across the county, while scouring beaches, flooding fields and leaving a blanket of snow that was measured in feet, not inches.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s seasonal outlook for this winter predicts a moderately wetter season than those in recent years, and slightly warmer than normal, according to NOAA’s long-range outlook issued in mid-November. Forecasters say the wetter-and-warmer forecast is thanks to a strong El Niño pattern, the phenomenon of warming waters in the east-central Pacific Ocean that can have global effects, including an increase in nor’easter activity along the East Coast of the United States.
To ensure you are prepared for winter weather, 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 facebook.com/SussexCountyEOC and Twitter at www.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.