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Coming off the heels of 2020’s devastating hurricane and wildfire seasons, it’s natural to be nervous about what the coming winter might have in store for us. While the potential number of storms can’t be predicted in the same manner as hurricanes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does release long lead weather forecasts for the country on the third Thursday of every month. Fair warning: their website is clunky to navigate, but there’s a
trove of forecasting data to comb through that can help give a general sense of what to expect in any particular U.S. geographical region.
To determine the essentials to have on hand in preparation for a snowstorm, Wirecutter senior staff writer Doug Mahoney spoke with Brian Donegan, meteorologist for The Weather Channel’s weather.com. He also relied on his own extensive experience with snow: he grew up in Vermont at the end of a 2-mile dirt road, and sometimes waited days for the town plow to make it to his house. He has spent 4 winters in New England, and lived near Boston during the winter of 2014–15, when the city received a record-breaking 110.6 inches of snow over a six-week period. He has dealt with all kinds of snow, and been through quite a few ice storms, two of which pulled the power lines right off his house and left him in the dark for a week each time. As the author of Wirecutter’s guides to snow shovels and snow blowers, he’s versed in the more technical elements of snow removal (he also assisted with ice scraper testing). And he researched and wrote a guide to the best sleds, which he describes as being as fun as it sounds.
The biggest concern with a snow or ice storm is a power outage, because unless you have a wood stove, that means a total loss of heat. That’s not only uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, but as Donegan explained, “your pipes can freeze, and you have a huge mess on your hands.” Make that a costly mess, and while a few of the items on our list are intended to help prevent frozen pipes, there will be times when even the best efforts fall short. When you have no options for bringing heat into the house, you’ll likely want to shut off your water and
drain your pipes. If you don’t know how to do that, this article from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing describes the process.
While we have a general guide to emergency preparedness that covers items such as food, water, and first aid kits, as well as recommendations focused on extended power outages, this list is geared toward the specific needs of preparing for a snowstorm. If ice scrapers and shovels are in your near future, we also suggest taking a page from The Long Winter and checking in with neighbors ahead of time who might need assistance. “There was a sense of community in sharing and recognizing who was in greatest need that I don’t know if we see as much in modern society,” said Doctor Barb Mayes Boustead, a meteorologist instructor for the National Weather Service Warning Decision Training Division, who researched historical data to find out if the weather conditions Laura wrote about were more accurate than the author’s portrayals of Native Americans. (It turns out she was right about the winter.) Stock up on our picks for the best tools to help you ride out a snowstorm with ease, and we’ve included a few extra suggestions to help you have a little fun along the way.
Source: The NY Times
Keyword: Essential Tools to Ride Out a Winter Storm