Time to prep for winter weather

Published 6:19 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2016

LaGRANGE – Gov. Nathan Deal has declared this week Winter Weather Preparedness Week, and Georgia agencies encourage residents to get ready for the challenges that come with winter in the region.

While Georgians rarely have to face large snow drifts and other hazards that plague northern states, the governor’s office encourages residents of the state to be prepared for the full range of winter precipitation, including snow, ice and freezing rain.

“During this week, Georgians are encouraged to prepare for winter weather by replenishing necessary supplies, making a plan and learning about the different types of winter weather,” said a press release from Georgia Emergency Management Agency’s Ready Georgia Campaign.

The group, encourages individuals and businesses to be prepared for possible inclement weather by having a plan in place for emergencies such as tornadoes, flooding and ice storms and to listen for weather reports so that they can stay safe.

“We remind people to watch the weather reports” said Connie Hensler, executive director of the American Red Cross’s Three Rivers Chapter, who added. “… Remember your pets, and check to make sure their water isn’t frozen. You may need to bring them in as it gets especially cold.”

Hensler also reminds residents to be vigilant with fire safety as temperatures drop. Space heaters can become fire hazards if they are not placed far enough away from flammables like clothes and paper, and Christmas trees should be unplugged when residents are out of the house. Georgians are also encouraged to be careful while driving this winter.

“It is important that folks take their time,” said Captain Mike Pheil of the LaGrange Police Department. “Be aware of not only your driving, but others’ driving as well. … Distracted driving is definitely a problem.”

Pheil encourages motorists to pull over to make phone calls and to be especially careful on roads that may be slick thanks to recent rain. According to the National Weather Service, ice is one of the main winter weather problems in the Southeast, and they encourage drivers to have an emergency kit on hand in case ice makes roadways unsafe or downed power lines make roads impassable.

“(We encourage people to) make sure they have a safety kit in your car,” said Hensler. “Like a to go kit with fresh water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, and a blanket.”

It will be especially important to be aware of ice during the end of this week when temperatures are projected to go down into the 20s following several days of rain early in the week.

Last year, LaGrange faced flooding on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, though temperatures remained relatively mild throughout the winter. The last major ice storm to effect Troup County was February 11 through 13, 2014. This year, the National Weather Service expects Troup County to have another mild winter, though they still encourage caution on roadways with an emphasis on bridges and overpasses that generally freeze before other surfaces. The service does not expect flooding again this year though because of the drought.

“It does favor better odds for a drier and warmer winter,” said forecaster Ryan Willis with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. “… It takes a while to erase a drought of the immensity that we’ve been in.”

For additional information about winter safety in your home, contact the Red Cross at 706-884-5818.