Winter is a major season in Connecticut. It's normally a long season of cold temperatures and snow and ice that can last from November through April. In Connecticut, we are just as mobile, social and active during the winter as we are during the summer months. But in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable winter, it is critical to be informed and aware of the potential risks and hazards associated with winter weather and how to avoid them.
The topics below describe some common preparedness tips, including warnings and alerts and resources for more information.
Prepare Your Self
Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves. Wool is a good choice, it is warm even when wet.
Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
Prepare Your Home
Have sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
Winterize your home by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
Maintain your awareness of Current Weather
Winter Weather Terms
Winter Storm Watch: Issued for the possibility of severe life-threatening winter weather conditions including: heavy snow, heavy ice and/or near blizzard conditions. Forecasters are typically 50 percent confident that severe winter weather will materialize when a watch is issued.
Blizzard Watch: Issued for the possibility of blizzard conditions. Forecasters are typically 50 percent confident that blizzard conditions will materialize when a blizzard watch is issued.
Wind Chill Watch: Issued for the potential of wind chills of -25F or less, which can cause rapid frostbite and increase the risk of hypothermia.
Winter Storm Warning: Issued for a combination of heavy snow and/or ice, of which, at least one exceeds or meets warning criteria. Winter weather is expected to cause life-threatening public impact for a combination of winter hazards including heavy snow, ice, near blizzard conditions, blowing and drifting snow and/or dangerous wind chills.
Heavy Snow Warning: Issued when 7 inches or more of snow is expected in 12 hours or less, or 9 inches or more is expected in 24 hours or less. Heavy Snow Warnings are issued when there is a high degree of confidence that the entire event will be snow.
Ice Storm Warning: Issued for a 1/2 inch or more of ice accumulation which causes damage to power lines and trees. Ice Storm Warnings are issued when there is a high degree of confidence that the entire event is expected to be ice.
Blizzard Warning: Issued when blizzard conditions are imminent or expected in the next 12 to 24 hours. Blizzard conditions include sustained or frequent gusts of or above 35 mph AND considerable falling, blowing and drifting of snow reducing visibilities frequently 1/4 mile.
Wind Chill Warning: Issued when the wind chill is expected to be -25F or less. Frostbite can occur in less than 10 minutes.
Snow Advisory: Issued when an average of 4 to 6 inches of snow is expected in 12 hours or less. Snow advisories are issued when there is a high degree of confidence that the entire event will be snow.
Freezing Rain Advisory: Any accumulation of freezing rain that can make roads slippery. Freezing rain advisories will only be issued when there is a high degree of confidence that the entire event will be freezing rain only.
Snow and Blowing Snow Advisory: Sustained wind or frequent gusts of 25 to 34 mph accompanied by falling and blowing snow, occasionally reducing visibility to a 1/4 mile or less for three hours or more.
Blowing Snow Advisory: Widespread or localized blowing snow reducing visibilities to a 1/4 or less with winds less than 35 mph.
Wind Chill Advisory: Issued for wind chills of -15F to -24F. Frostbite can occur in less than 30 minutes.
General Ice Jam Information
Ice Jam Information from the NWS Office in Taunton, Mass