Georgetown, Del. (Mon., Nov. 30, 2020): Seasons may change, but the need to be prepared for any season remains the same.
The Sussex County Emergency Operations Center reminds the public that hazard preparation is a year-round necessity, whether it’s ahead of hurricane season that officially ends today – 2020 was the most active season ever recorded – or the nor’easter season that typically runs from now to mid-March. As the calendar turns to the colder months, residents and property owners are encouraged to check supplies, monitor weather conditions, and take appropriate action if directed this winter season.
“This year is certainly one for the record books on many levels, whether it’s the ongoing pandemic or the unprecedented hurricane season of 30 named systems, three of which affected us here in Sussex County – Fay, Isaias, and Zeta,” Sussex County EOC Director Joseph L. Thomas said. “I know everyone is ready for a break, but we cannot take a break from readiness, no matter the season. Winter storms, particularly nor’easters, bring us some of our most intense weather each year. So we urge the public to take stock of their supplies and readiness plans now in case the winter months ahead are as challenging as the rest of 2020 has been for all of us.”
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 better than average chances for warmer temperatures and equal chances for precipitation in Sussex County. Forecasters in mid-October, when the outlook was released, expect the continuation of a persistent La Niña pattern, the phenomena of cooling waters in the east-central Pacific Ocean that can have global effects on weather patterns. That includes producing warmer and often drier conditions in much of the U.S., particularly along the southeastern coast. Whether that affects the number of and intensity of coastal storms this season along the East Coast and mid-Atlantic remains to be seen.
Whatever unfolds this season, 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 grip if your vehicle becomes stranded;
- Create a Safety Profile for your household with the County’s free Smart911.com service to provide potentially life-saving information in advance.
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.