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Hurricane Season Officially Ends; Winter Storms On The Horizon

Hurricane season officially ends at midnight tonight, and it was one of the busiest years on record for tropical storms. The season produced nineteen tropical storms including Hurricane Irene, which damaged U.S. neighborhoods from the Carolinas to Maine.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Irene was the lone hurricane to hit the United States in 2011, and the first one to do so since Hurricane Ike struck southeast Texas in 2008. Irene was also the most significant tropical cyclone to strike the Northeast since Hurricane Bob in 1991. For highlights of the 2011 hurricane season, tune in to a video on the NOAA website.

The hurricane season was a reminder that storms can hit anywhere and people need to be ready for all types of weather that may hit their community. “Hurricane season is ending, but people still need to be prepared for whatever challenges Mother Nature may bring,” said Charley Shimanski, Disaster Services Senior Vice President for the American Red Cross. “We’re heading into winter, when blizzards and bitter cold can be a challenge in some parts of the country.”

Winter Storm Safety Checklist

A winter storm may be just a moderate snowfall lasting a few hours, or a dangerous blizzard that lasts for several days. Many bring dangerously low temperatures with them, along with strong winds, ice, sleet and freezing rain.

If you live in a part of the country that may see winter storms, the Red Cross recommends steps you can take to be prepared before the storm hits. You can winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full to keep the fuel line from freezing. You can insulate your home and install storm windows, or cover the windows with plastic to keep cold air out. You should maintain your heating equipment, and have your chimney cleaned and inspected.

Other steps you can take to be prepared for winter include:

  • Dress in layers of lightweight clothing, and wear mittens and a hat that covers your ears.
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
  • If a storm is coming your way, minimize travel. Keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure their drinking water doesn’t freeze.
  • During extreme cold, running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.

More information about what to do before, during and after a winter storm is available on our web site.