Brace yourselves – Winter is coming!
Before you know it, West Sayville through Blue Point and the rest of Long Island will be bundling up for what is expected to be an average winter for the local area. The National Weather Service wants to make sure everyone is prepared for what could come and has declared this week, October 21st through 27th, to be Winter Weather Awareness Week!
On average, Islip, the nearest local weather measuring station, has received 26.6 inches of snow during the winter. Between the winters of 2008-2009 and 2010-2011, the area received between 37 and 56 inches of snow during the winter, including three blizzards in the 2010-2011 season.
While last winter served as the first break from major significant impacting snowfall with only a few inches falling, this year's El Niño could change the forecast as the winter goes on.
Know Your Facts
The National Weather Service has several different advisories, watches and warnings it could issue during the winter for potential storms. Simply put, watches are an alert that a storm could impact an area from 24-36 hours, an advisory is issued for what is usually a low-to-moderate impacting storm and warnings are issued for significantly impacting storms.
The National Weather Service defines these messages as follows:
- Winter Weather Advisory: This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a low pressure system produces a combination of winter weather (snow, freezing rain, sleet, etc.) that present a hazard, but does not meet warning criteria.
- Winter Storm Watch: This product is issued by the National Weather Service when there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice accumulations, usually at least 24 to 36 hours in advance. The criteria for this watch can vary from place to place.
- Winter Storm Warning: This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a winter storm is producing or is forecast to produce heavy snow or significant ice accumulations. The criteria for this warning can vary from place to place.
- Snow Advisory: This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a low pressure system produces snow that may cause significant inconveniences, but do not meet warning criteria and if caution is not exercised could lead to life threatening situations.
- Blizzard Warning: Issued for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 mph or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less. These conditions are expected to prevail for a minimum of 3 hours.
How to Prepare Yourself
As with all major weather systems, it is always a good idea to have a plan for emergency and an emergency kit in case of power outages. The New York State Office of Emergency Management suggests the following items:
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
- Emergency non-perishable foods that do not require refrigeration
- Non-electric can opener
- Bottled water
- One week supply of essential medicines
- Extra blankets and sleeping bags
- First aid kit and manual
- Fire extinguisher
- Emergency heating equipment, used properly
More safety tips and helpful ways to winterize your home can be found here.
What's Expected This Winter
The current National Weather Service forecast for the months of December through February, when the most snowfall and storms occur historically, shows the Northeast, including Long Island, having what would amount to an average winter.
This year's forecast, however, is made slightly tougher by the prevailing El Niño phenomenon can send vast amounts of cold air headed directly at the northeast, giving us a cooler winter than normal and potentially more snowfall.
Just as other news sources, Patch serves as your hometown's megaphone. If there's any sort of weather emergency headed your way this winter – Patch will be there. Skip the lengthy lists of school closings for your area – Patch will have all information local schools and districts!
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