One weather season ends, another begins. But the need for preparation is a constant no matter the date on the calendar. The Sussex County Emergency Operations Center recently reminded the public that hazard preparation is a year-round necessity, whether it’s ahead of hurricane season that officially ended Nov. 30 — 2021 was the third most-active season recorded — or the nor’easter season that typically runs to mid-March.
As the colder winds of the season blow, residents and property owners are encouraged to check supplies, monitor weather conditions, and take appropriate action if directed this winter season.
“Thankfully, this hurricane season was not as active as 2020, and Sussex County fared well in not having any major issues with tropical weather,” Sussex County EOC Director Joseph L. Thomas said. “While concerns about hurricanes fade away for another year, Mother Nature’s threats don’t end. Nor’easters have historically been some of our biggest weather events, so the public should remain vigilant in the months ahead. Extreme cold, heavy rain and snow, howling winds, and tidal flooding are all some of the challenges winter brings to Sussex County. So the public needs to stay vigilant and be prepared, just as they do at the start of every new hurricane season.”
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 & 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 re-emergence 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 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, the Sussex County EOC suggested a number of 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 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.
For more winter weather information and helpful tips, visit the Sussex County website at www.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.