As the warmer-than-normal temperatures of November fade, officials at Duke and the National Weather Service are reminding community members to prepare for winter weather.Heading into the 2011-12 winter season, the National Weather Service has declared this week "Winter Weather Preparedness Week" in North Carolina.Even though November's average daily temperature was just over 55 degrees - about three degrees warmer than historical averages - there's always a chance for snow in December. Last year, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport received 8.3 inches of snow, the second snowiest December on record. "All it takes is one big storm that can still happen and impact people adversely," said Jonathan Blaes, science operations officer for the National Weather Service in Raleigh. "In our part of the state, we'll usually get five to eight inches of snow, but the past couple winters, we've also had more of a wintry mix with snow and ice than three or four years ago."This winter is expected to be warmer and drier than average, but that doesn't mean that will certainly be the case, he added.Duke employees can prepare for winter weather by reviewing Duke's severe weather policy as well as their service categories to ensure they understand their roles and responsibilities if Duke declares severe weather or an emergency condition.As part of its own preparation for winter, Duke has been working to update its snow and ice removal plan, which focuses on clearing Duke roads and designated priority parking lots, bus stops and pedestrian paths to building entrances. Some improvements to the plan will include:
- Incorporating physical changes to the campus like new residence halls and construction sites.
- Devising a supplemental plan for a winter storm coinciding with athletic events.
- Creating a new schedule to check equipment and usage of available staff.
In addition, community members can practice a variety of precautions like putting blankets in a vehicle, having storing an ice scraper or shovel and storing snacks and bottled water at home. Other tips can be found on the National Weather Service website about weather terminology, preparing a home for winter, driving in poor conditions and more.Like last year, the weather across North America will be influenced by a La Nina winter, defined as a weather pattern with cooler-than-normal sea temperatures that can cause a wetter winter in rain and snow. In 2000, a La Nina storm brought between 18 and 24 inches of snow to the state in less than 24 hours. La Nina winters can also result in more wintry mixes and chances for more freezing rain and sleet due to the warmer temperatures."Awareness week is simply an opportunity to get folks thinking so they're a step or two ahead of any real nasty weather," said Blaes, the National Weather Service science operations officer in Raleigh. "Winter in this part of the country provides a whole host of hazards," he said, "and you don't want to wait until it's too late."Read More