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FEMA Encourages Americans To Start Preparing For Winter Weather

NOAA Annual Winter Outlook Released Today Forecasts "Winter of Extremes" for U.S.

WASHINGTON - Today, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its 2010 U.S. Winter Outlook predicting extreme weather patterns for different regions of the country this winter, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is reminding individuals to get ready for winter storms and extreme cold.  Americans can find helpful tips and recommendations to help them get prepared at www.ready.gov/america/beinformed/winter.html.

Among other things, NOAA's outlook forecast that the Pacific Northwest could have a colder and wetter than average winter, while the South may be warmer and drier than usual.  While the threats vary across different parts of the country, almost everyone, regardless of where they live, is likely to experience some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives.

"With winter right around the corner, it's never too early to start preparing for snowstorms, icy roads, and other types of severe weather," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.  "Whether you live in an area that is used to severe winters or not, there are three simple steps all Americans should take to get ready: put together an emergency supply kit, develop a family communications plan, and stay informed about the risks and emergencies in your community."

"Besides severe winter weather, disasters can strike anytime, anywhere, which is why it's important to be prepared wherever you live," Fugate continued. "I urge everyone to visit www.Ready.gov for more helpful tips."

Severe winter weather can include snow or subfreezing temperatures, strong winds and ice or heavy rain storms.  An emergency supply kit both at home and in the car will help prepare people for winter power outages and icy or impassable roads.

An emergency supply kit should include a three-day supply of food and water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra flashlights and batteries.  Thoroughly check and update your family's emergency supply kit and add the following supplies in preparation for winter weather:

  • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways;
  • Sand to improve traction;
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment;
  • And adequate clothing and blankets to help keep you warm.
  • Ensure your family preparedness plan and contacts are up to date and exercise your plan.  Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government, and ensure your home and car are prepared for the winter weather.

Finally, everyone should get familiar with the terms that are used to identify a winter storm hazard and discuss with your family what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued. Terms used to describe a winter storm hazard include the following:

  • Freezing Rain creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.
  • Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Winter Weather Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected.
  • Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.
  • Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.

For more information and winter prearedness tips, please visit: www.ready.gov/america/beinformed/winter.html.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

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