WESTERLY — A winter storm is heading toward southern New England and its expected to drop at least 6 inches of snow along the Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut shoreline.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Thursday. According to forecasts, the snow will arrive mainly after 4 a.m., with around an inch of snow possible overnight into Thursday. Six to 10 more inches of snow are expected to continue through the day, and visibility will be limited with blustery winds of 20 to 24 mph and gusts up to 55 mph.
Snow is forecast to continue into the evening, mainly before 10 p.m., with an additional half inch of accumulation possible. Then the temperature will fall, with wind chilss dropping to minus 5 with winds of 17 to 20 mph and gusts of up to 49 mph. For the complete warning and weather report, visit weather.gov.
Westerly Police Chief Richard Silva said officials are preparing for the worst and are asking residents to stay home. “The best advice would be that if you don't need to go out, especially during the peak of the storm, then stay home,” he said.
The American Red Cross is also warning New England residents to be prepared to hunker down. “As always, we want to remind people of the importance of being prepared in advance of a winter storm,” said Stefanie Arcangelo, chief communications officer of the Red Cross for Connecticut and Rhode Island. “This is the first significant snowfall for our state this season. We just want to remind everyone to prepare and be safe.”
The Red Cross recommends residents consider the following:
Assemble an emergency preparedness kit: It should include a warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves, and water-resistant boots, along with extra blankets and extra warm clothing for each family member. Sand or non-clumping cat litter is good to have on hand to help make walkways or steps less slippery. In the event of a pwer outage, a first aid kit and a supply of essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries should be assembled in the event of a power outage.
Use technology: Download free Red Cross preparedness apps for your smartphone. In particular, the First Aid App has a special section devoted to severe winter weather with preparedness tips and information about coping during and after the storm. Get the apps for iPhones or Android phones at www.redcross.org/mobileapps.
Heed storm warnings: A winter storm warning means that life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. Individuals in a warning area should take precautions immediately.A blizzard warning is issued for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 mph or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to a quarter of a mile or less. These conditions are expected to prevail for a minimum of 3 hours.
Use caution clearing snow: Take the task slow and easy to guard against over-exertion or back injury. Take regular breaks. If using a snow thrower, keep hands and feet clear of moving parts. Always turn off your snow thrower and use a stick or other implement to clear blockages, never use your hands. If there is a fire hydrant on your property, clear snow around it.
Tips for home and car: Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full, which will help to keep the fuel line from freezing. When the storm has passed, completely clear snow from all surfaces of your vehicle. It’s safer for you and other drivers and it’s the law in Connecticut. Be sure to keep furnace and gas dryer vents outside your home clear of snow to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you lose power and heat, running water at a trickle from a faucet helps to prevent pipes from freezing.
Use generators safely: Never operate a generator inside homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, sheds or other partially enclosed spaces, even if using a fan or opening doors and windows. Carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these spaces and linger for hours after a generator is shut down. Place your generator outside, well away from windows, doors and vents. Shut down the generator before refueling it. If you begin to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a portable generator, shut it off and get to fresh air immediately. You could have CO poisoning.
Use care when outdoors: Dress in light layers so you can adapt to temperatures. Wear a hat; most of your body heat is lost through your head. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear insulated, waterproof footwear. Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia that can be a serious medical condition: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms. Recognize frostbite warning signs: gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, waxy feeling skin. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.