Skip Navigation
Page Background
Close
 
 

Winter Outlook

2019-2020 Winter Outlook:

Winter Scene

On October 17th, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center issued its winter outlook from December through February for temperature, precipitation, and drought. For the Mid-Atlantic region, temperatures are favored to be above average with no parts favored to be colder than average; precipitation includes wetter-than-average conditions; and drought conditions will continue to improve over the next few months. For NOAA’s full winter outlook, visit their website.
 

 

Where should I go to find out what is happening locally?

When winter weather is in the forecast, it is important for citizens and business owners to monitor the situation and be proactive to protect themselves, their family, and their property. Local officials have a variety of ways to get information to the public. You can obtain reliable emergency information from television stations (for example, WBAL, WMAR, WJZ, WBFF, Anne Arundel County’s Community TV station), radio stations (for example, WNAV 1430 AM, WYRE 810 AM, WYPR 88.1 FM, El Zol 99.1 FM, WFSI 107.9 FM, WBAL 1090 AM), the National Weather Service, and the Office of Emergency Management.

What is the difference between a Winter Storm Watch, Winter Storm Warning, and Winter Weather Advisory?

A Winter Storm Watch is issued when there is the potential for significant and hazardous winter weather within 48 hours. It does not mean that significant and hazardous winter weather will occur, it only means that it is possible. Significant and hazardous winter weather is defined as a combination of:
  • 5 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 12-hour period or 7 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 24-hour period
  • AND/OR Enough ice accumulation to cause damage to trees or powerlines
  • AND/OR A life threatening or damaging combination of snow and/or ice accumulation with wind

A Winter Storm Warning is issued when a significant combination of hazardous winter weather is occurring or imminent. Significant and hazardous winter weather is defined as a combination of:

  • 5 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 12-hour period or 7 inches or more of snow/sleet within a 24-hour period AND/OR
  • Enough ice accumulation to cause damage to trees or powerlines AND/OR
  • A life threatening or damaging combination of snow and/or ice accumulation with wind

A Winter Weather Advisory will be issued for any amount of freezing rain, or when 2 to 4 inches of snow (alone or in combination with sleet and freezing rain), is expected to cause a significant inconvenience, but not serious enough to warrant a warning. If the event is expected to impact the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan areas during rush hours (4-9 am or 2-7 pm on weekdays) forecasted snow totals of one inch will necessitate the issuance of a winter weather advisory.

products

 
Common Winter Storm Terminology

Black Ice: A thin coating of ice found on roads and sidewalks that is difficult to see
Nor’easter: A nor’easter is a large storm system that generally forms within 100 miles of the East Coast, between Georgia and New Jersey. These storms can occur at any time of the year and can bring heavy precipitation, winds exceeding hurricane force, and can have the potential to flood portions of the coastline. The name Nor’easter is associated with the northeast winds that are a primary characteristic of these storms
Sleet: A mixture of snow and rain
Flurries: Very light snowfall
Frost: A thin layer of ice crystals that form on a frozen surface, such as grass or a car
Blizzard: A blizzard means that considerable falling and/or blowing snow and sustained wind or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater will last for three or more hours
Passable: The roadway condition when one travel lane is accessible by front-wheel drive cars
Bare Pavement: The roadway condition when the snow has been plowed and the pavement is exposed
Frostbite: An injury that is caused by the freezing of skin and underlying tissues. Skin may become very cold and red, then numb and pale
Hypothermia: A state in which the body’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees; severe hypothermia can occur when the body’s core temperature drops below 82 degrees. Hypothermia can be accompanied by stiffness, excessive shivering, confusion, slurred speech, numbness, or weak pulse
Wind Chill: Wind chill is a measure of what the outside temperature actually feels like to humans and animals. Wind chill is calculated off both the actual temperature and wind speed by the National Weather Service
El Niño: The term El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific. Typical El Niño effects are likely to develop over North America during the upcoming winter season
La Niña: La Niña episodes represent periods of below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific. During a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest

Power Outage Information
 

Power outages can occur frequently when extreme weather is impacting Anne Arundel County. Every household in Anne Arundel County should be prepared to survive up to three days without power. This can be done by:

Ensuring your household has one gallon of water per person, per day, for three days. Make sure to include enough water for pets.
A supply of flashlights and extra batteries will become essential when power is down. Fire officials strongly discourage the use of candles during power outages due to the heightened risk of fires.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas which is caused by faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters, and fireplaces. Make sure you have working carbon monoxide alarms installed on every level of your home, especially around sleeping areas.
Portable generators are helpful, but can be dangerous if not used correctly. Always place generators at least 15 feet outside of doors and windows to allow carbon monoxide gases to vent properly.
Do not use propane or gas heaters indoors as both are a fire and asphyxiation hazard.
Turn refrigerator and freezer to maximum cold settings if you expect an extended outage. Keep doors closed as much as possible:    - Food in a full refrigerator will keep for up to four hours
   - Food in a full freezer will keep for up to two days
Families who have power-dependent health needs should have an emergency plan at all times.

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency provides power outage reports throughout Maryland that are updated every 15-30 minutes via utility websites.

To contact BGE, which provides power to most of Central Maryland, visit www.bge.com, or call to report outages at 877-778-2222. If you see sparking power lines, immediately call 9-1-1. For other downed lines call 800-685-0123 or 410-685-0123 (TTY: 800-735-2258).

power

Holiday Safety

Holiday safety is an issue that burns brightest from late November to mid-January, when families gather, parties are scheduled, and travel spikes. Take some basic precautions to ensure your family remains safe and injury-free throughout the season.

Traveling for the Holidays? Be Prepared. Many people choose to travel by car during the holidays, which has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation based on fatalities per passenger mile. Stay safe on the roads over the holidays and every day:

  • Prepare your car for winter and keep an emergency preparedness kit with you;
  • Leave early, planning ahead for heavy traffic;
  • Make sure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled up no matter how long or short the distance traveled;
  • Put the cell phone away; many distractions occur while driving, but cell phones are the main culprit; and
  • Designate a sober driver to ensure guests make it home safely after a holiday party; alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription and illegal drugs can cause impairment.

Decorate Safely. Decorating is one of the best ways to get in a holiday mood, but emergency rooms see thousands of injuries involving holiday decorating every season.

  • Keep potentially poisonous plants – mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry, and amaryllis – away from children
  • If using an artificial tree, verify it is labeled as “fire resistant”
  • Place your tree at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, radiators, and other heat sources, making certain not to block doorways; and
  • Turn off all lights and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.

Watch Out for Fire-Starters.

  • Candles and Fireplaces: Use of candles and fireplaces, combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations in many homes during the holidays, means more risk for fire. The National Fire Protection Association reports that one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles and two of every five decoration fires happen because the decorations are placed too close to a heat source.
  • Turkey Fryers: Be alert to the dangers if you're thinking of celebrating the holidays by frying a turkey. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there have been 154 turkey-fryer related fires, burns or other injuries since 2004, with $5.2 million in property damage losses have resulted from these incidents.

Food Poisoning is No Joke. Keep your holidays happy by handling food safely. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides some valuable holiday food safety tips.

12 days of safety

Frostbite and Hypothermia Safety

Hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature) and frostbite are both dangerous conditions that can happen when a person is exposed to extremely cold temperatures. Stay safe this winter by learning more about hypothermia and frostbite, including who is most at risk, signs and symptoms, and what to do if someone develops hypothermia or frostbite.
 

What is Frostbite? Frostbite is a type of injury caused by freezing. It leads to a loss of feeling and color in the areas it affects, usually extremities such as the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation (removing the affected body part).

Who’s Most at Risk? You may have a greater chance of developing frostbite if you:

  • Have poor blood circulation; and
  • Are not properly dressed for extremely cold temperatures

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia? If you notice redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin—frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may point to frostbite:

  • A white or grayish-yellow skin area;
  • Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy; or
  • Numbness

What is Hypothermia? Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to very cold temperatures. When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it is produced. Lengthy exposures will eventually use up your body’s stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature.

Who’s Most at Risk? Victims of hypothermia are often:

  • Older adults with inadequate food, clothing, or heating;
  • Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms;
  • People who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.; and
  • People who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia? The following are warning signs of hypothermia:

  • Shivering;
  • Exhaustion or feeling very tired;
  • Confusion;
  • Fumbling hands;
  • Memory loss;
  • Slurred speech; and 
  • Drowsiness

What is Frostbite? Frostbite is a type of injury caused by freezing. It leads to a loss of feeling and color in the areas it affects, usually extremities such as the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation (removing the affected body part).

Who’s Most at Risk? You may have a greater chance of developing frostbite if you:

  • Have poor blood circulation; and
  • Are not properly dressed for extremely cold temperatures

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia? If you notice redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin—frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may point to frostbite:

  • A white or grayish-yellow skin area;
  • Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy; or
  • Numbness

frostbite

Winter Safety for Pets

Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these are not the only discomforts pets can suffer. Winter walks can become downright dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off of bare paws. Ensure your four-footed family members stay safe and warm by following these simple guidelines.

Keep Pets Sheltered. Keep your pets inside with you and your family. Under no circumstances should pet cats be left outdoors, even if they roam outside during other seasons.

Bundle Up, Wipe Down. No matter what the temperature, windchill can threaten a pet's life. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps. For this reason, short-haired dogs often feel more comfortable wearing a sweater—even during short walks.

Remove Common Poisons. Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up any antifreeze spills immediately and keep it, like all household chemicals, out of reach. Coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol are less toxic to pets, wildlife, and family.

Protect Outdoor Animals. If there are outdoor cats, either owned pets or community cats in your area, remember they need protection from the elements as well as food and water. Cars are one of the many hazards to small animals—warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

winter safety

 

Dressing for Cold Weather

Try to stay indoors during extremely cold weather. Make any trips outside as brief as possible, and remember these tips below to protect your health and safety.

Dress Warmly and Stay Dry. Adults and children should wear:

  • A hat
  • A scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
  • Sleeves that are snug at the wrist
  • Mittens
  • Water-resistant coat and boots
  • Several layers of loose-fitting clothing

Layer-Up.

  • Inner Layer: Wear fabrics that will hold more body heat and don’t absorb moisture. Wool, silk, or polypropylene will hold more body heat than cotton.
  • Insulation Layer: An insulation layer will help you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Natural fibers, like wool, goose down, or a fleece work best.
  • Outer Layer: The outermost layer helps protect you from wind, rain, and snow. It should be tightly woven, and preferably water and wind resistant, to reduce loss of body heat.

dressing for cold weather