Take last-minute snow prep seriously

Published 2:12 pm Thursday, January 20, 2022

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It is early Thursday afternoon as of this writing, and there is nary a snowflake in sight falling from the sky. Nor is there a drop of rain, nor a little ball of sleet or ice.

However, that was predicted to change after we sent this edition of the Suffolk News-Herald to press, more than 24 hours early due to the storm.

How much would it change? Well, that’s anyone’s guess.

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Professional and amateur meteorologists bemoaned the lack of agreement in the weather models in the hours and days leading up to this snowstorm. Some forecasts called for as much as 16 inches, a rarity for this area. Others called for, well, nothing at all. Most coalesced in the area of 4 to 6 inches.

Whatever model one uses, it seems likely this storm will produce some snowfall for us, perhaps more than we have seen in a year or two. So we’re calling on everyone to stay safe.

In declaring a state of emergency in advance of the storm, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office on Thursday issued the following safety tips to everyone in Virginia:

  • Stay off the roads as much as possible and only drive when absolutely necessary. Always give snow plows and responders the right of way.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning device inside your home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any other partially enclosed area.
  • Snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks. Always avoid overexertion when shoveling.
  • Plan to check on elderly or disabled neighbors and relatives.
  • If you must travel, know road conditions before you leave home. Visit 511Virginia.org or call 511 for road condition updates.
  • Protect yourself from frostbite. Hands, feet and face are the most commonly affected areas, so wear a hat and mittens and cover your mouth with a scarf to reduce heat loss.
  • Keep dry. Change out of wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat.
  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer or heavy clothing.
  • Make sure your home is properly insulated.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
  • Have additional heat sources on hand in case of a power outage.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher accessible.
  • Replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector annually.
  • Check your car’s antifreeze level.
  • Replace your car’s windshield wiper fluid with a wintertime mix.
  • To help with visibility, clean off your car entirely — including your trunk, roof, windows and headlights
  • Please heed warnings to avoid travel. If you absolutely have to be on the roadway, prepare your vehicle and have a kit for you and your passengers. This could include items such as blankets, drinking water and snacks, a basic first-aid kit, emergency warning devices such as road flares or reflectors, an ice scraper and snow brush, hand warmers, a portable power bank for your smartphone, and a traction aid such as sand, salt or non-clumping cat litter.