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Winter weather? Know the difference.
Winter Weather Advisory - Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.
Winter Storm Watch - Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.
Winter Storm Warning - Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.
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Protect yourself and your home during winter:
Cold winter weather in Virginia is challenging and dangerous. Protect yourself and your home with these tips:
Heating your home:
- Do not use the kitchen oven range to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes.
- Plug space heaters into wall outlets, not extension cords. Keep space heaters at least three feet from other objects. Never leave a space heater unattended, and turn it off before going to bed.
- Portable generators and kerosene and propane heaters must be used with great caution. They should be inspected and cleaned by professionals so that they work safely. Proper ventilation is essential: the room must be ventilated by opening a window. Keep heaters at least three feet away from flammable objects such as curtains, blankets and furniture. Place heaters on a hard surface, not on carpet. Refuel them outdoors after they have cooled. Follow manufacturer's directions exactly when hooking them up.
- If you will heat with a fireplace or wood stove, have a professional check it, especially if it has been a long time since the last cleaning. Residue can build up and cause fires.
It's essential that you and your family have a winter emergency plan.
Here's why: if your family cannot return home because of severe weather or closed roads, you need to decide ahead of time on meeting places away from your neighborhood. You also need an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family's point of contact for emergency communications. Learn more about making a plan for winter weather and all emergencies at www.ReadyVirginia.gov.
- Keep your gas tank full during the winter, but it's always best to stay off roads during winter storms. Most accidents happen within the first two hours after a storm starts. If you must drive, know the road conditions before you go. Call 511 or go to www.511Virginia.org for around-the-clock travel information. Also, if you are going to drive in a winter storm, be sure to tell someone your destination and the routes you are going to take to get there.
What if the power goes out?
- If there is a severe storm, then power outages could occur. If you can, stay in a place that has power and heat, such as a friend's home, hotel or local warming shelter.
- If you must stay home during power outages, plan now how you will stay warm. Choose a room that can be closed off and heated safely by something other than electricity.
- During power outages, don't use candles for light. Flashlights are much safer. Be sure to have extra batteries on hand.
- Stay informed during power outages. Be sure you have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio (and extra batteries). Get one with Weather Radio so you can hear local radio stations and reports directly from the National Weather Service. These are available at electronics and sporting goods stores, department stores, boat and marine accessory stores, through catalogues and online. Prices range from $20-100.
Winter weather tips from Ready.gov. Including what to do before, during, and after a winter storm.
Winter Preparedness Week information and tips from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
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Before winter weather hits, the City of Harrisonburg encourages residents to make plans and talk with their neighbors.
An ordinance has been in place since 1973 that requires residents to remove snow from sidewalks in front of their home or business. The snow must be removed no longer than three hours after the snow stops falling. There are exceptions if the storm hits overnight.
Harrisonburg is a pedestrian‐friendly city and it is important to have clear sidewalks year‐round. If a pedestrian encounters a snow covered sidewalk, they may be inclined to walk in the roadway, which could pose a safety hazard.
The City also encourages neighbors to check in on one another and offer assistance to the elderly or those who are not physically able to clear the sidewalk.
Read the City Code Section 6-1-15.
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Worried about frozen water pipes?
Helpful cold weather tips from Public Utilities.
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When will my street get plowed?
View the salt and plow routes for Harrisonburg.
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Safety tips for sledding from Safe Kids Central Shenandoah Valley.
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