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Major Snowstorm to Impact the High Country This Weekend; Snow Accumulations of Over One Foot Expected

By Nathan Ham

It appears that the High Country is about to face a huge snow event this weekend and Monday, according to the National Weather Service and forecasts from Ray’s Weather Center.

The latest forecast from Ray’s Weather says that the High Country should expect double-digit snowfall totals. They will be posting a snowfall prediction map on Saturday morning before the storm arrives Saturday evening. Snow is expected to continue until it tapers off Monday afternoon.

Ray’s Weather Center also shared a bit of recent historical context for some of the biggest snowfalls in Boone after the Blizzard of 1993. On January 5-7 in 1996, Boone experienced a three-day total snowfall event of 26 inches. A little over two years later on January 26, 1998, Boone experienced its highest single day snow event on record with 19 inches of snow that poured down in 24 hours. On December 18-19, 2009, Boone received 15 inches of snow in 48 hours. The most recent snowfall that measured over a foot of snow was December 12-14, 2010 when 14 inches of snow hit the ground. This was also the snowiest December ever recorded with 28.7 inches of snow falling in Boone during the month.

A hazardous weather outlook note from the National Weather Service says that “accumulating snow and ice” will have a significant impact on travel throughout the weekend and into Monday.

With the threat of a rough winter storm always comes the issues of possible power outages and being stuck in your home for a few days.

Blue Ridge Energy Crews are already on “high alert” and will be monitoring the weather for impacts that are expected to hit the High Country, that according to Renee Whitener, the Director of Public Relations for Blue Ridge Energy.

Line technicians are prepping trucks with all necessary supplies and materials for any outages that may occur as a result of the storm. System operators monitor the Blue Ridge power system and weather on a daily, 24-hour basis and all other employees are on high alert, ready to respond to member needs, including the cooperative’s member/customer service contact center.

Blue Ridge Energy urges members to act now to make preparations to remain safe and comfortable in the event of an outage. While specific precipitation types and amounts continue to be fine-tuned, forecasts indicate that our service area may be heavily impacted by the storm.

How you can prepare:

  • Assemble an emergency kit. It should include at least a three-day supply of water, non-perishable food, medication, first aid supplies, a flashlight, weather radio and extra batteries. Include a list of emergency contacts.
  • Charge your cell phone and have external, backup power sources charged.
  • Stay tuned to local forecasts.
  • Fuel up. Fill up your vehicles before the storm as a loss of power could put affect gas stations.
  • Consider having supplies handy for your propane or charcoal grill. Be sure to grill outdoors in well ventilated areas for safety.
  • Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Do not forget the needs of pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights.

Keep the Blue Ridge Energy outage reporting number handy: 1-800-448-2383. Members can also report outages on the Blue Ridge Energy mobile app, available for free on app stores.

Red Cross Urges Community to Prepare for Weekend’s Forecasted Winter Weather

With accumulating snow in the forecast for the weekend, the Red Cross reminds residents in Western North Carolina to get prepared.

“It’s important folks start to pay close attention to their local news outlets and monitor impending winter weather. Preparedness is key to staying safe during a storm,” said Angela Powley, regional CEO of the Greater Carolinas Region of the Red Cross.

Severe Winter Weather Preparedness

Each year, hundreds of Americans are injured or killed by exposure to cold, vehicle accidents on wintry roads, and fires caused by the improper use of heaters. Stay safe by following key tips:

Before a winter storm

  • Listen to local radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications and medical supplies.
  • Be sure you have ample heating fuel.
  • If you have alternative heating sources, such as fireplaces, wood- or coal-burning stoves, or space heaters, be sure they are clean and in working order.
  • Check that your fire extinguisher(s) is in good working order, and replace it if necessary.
  • Bring your companion animals inside and ensure that your horses and livestock have blankets if appropriate, and unimpeded access to shelter, food, and non-frozen water.
  • Download the Emergency App for iPhone >> or for Android >>

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

During a storm

  • Stay indoors and wear warm clothes. Layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing will keep you warmer than a bulky sweater. If you feel too warm, remove layers to avoid sweating; if you feel chilled, add layers.
  • Eat regularly. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.
  • Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration. Drink liquids such as warm broth or juice. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, accelerates the symptoms of hypothermia. Alcohol is a depressant and hastens the effects of cold on the body. Alcohol also slows circulation and can make you less aware of the effects of cold. Both caffeine and alcohol can cause dehydration.
  • Conserve fuel. Winter storms can last for several days, placing great demand on electric, gas, and other fuel distribution systems (fuel oil, propane, etc.). Lower the thermostat to 65° F (18° C) during the day and to 55° F (13° C) at night. Close off unused rooms, and stuff towels or rags in cracks under the doors. Cover the windows at night.
  • Check on relatives, neighbors, and friends, particularly if they are elderly or if they live alone.
  • Space heaters should be placed on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home, and kept away from potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs.
  • Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.

Staying Safe Outside

If you must go outside, protect yourself from winter storm hazards:

  • Wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens or gloves and a hat will prevent the loss of body heat.
  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from cold air. Avoid taking deep breaths and minimize talking.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses much of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly away from the body.
  • Stretch before you go out. If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. This will reduce your chances of muscle injury.
  • Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a vehicle, or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks.

Driving in Winter Conditions

  • Check your vehicle emergency supplies kit and replenish it if necessary. Bring enough of the following for each person:
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Rain gear, extra sets of dry clothing, mittens, socks, and wool hats
  • Newspapers for insulation
  • Plastic bags for sanitation
  • Canned fruit, nuts, and high energy snacks (Include a non-electric can opener if necessary)
  • Warm broth in a thermos and several bottles of water
  • Keep a cell phone or two-way radio with you. Make sure the battery is charged.
  • Plan to travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person with you.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your vehicle gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • Before leaving, listen to weather reports for your area and the areas you will be passing through, or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions.