December 5, 2023

ReadyVB: Preparedness Tips for Winter Weather Impacts

Winter Weather Preparedness Week for Virginia is Dec. 4-8.

Ready VB Winter

Virginia Beach Emergency Management is joining efforts with other agencies such as FEMA and the National Weather Service in spreading the word about Winter Weather Preparedness Week for Virginia. The weeklong observance, Dec. 4-8, promotes preparedness and resilience during the winter season.

It’s important to prepare your home from winter weather impacts from snow, ice, wind and cold. Nor’easters and coastal storms can be as impactful as hurricanes.

Residents can stay informed during local emergencies including major weather events by signing up for VBAlert. Text “VBAlert” to 67283 or sign up at to receive important messages and emergency alert notifications from the City of Virginia Beach and Emergency Management during inclement weather.

Residents can also find valuable resources, tips and information on how to prepare before, during and after an emergency at

Take Action

One of the first actions residents should take is winterizing their emergency supply kits for home, vehicle and work. Impacts from severe winter storms can isolate you and your family in your home for several days. Power outages can also affect your ability to heat your home.

Because of poor road conditions due to snow and ice—obtaining food, supplies and other necessities may be impossible. This is why it’s important to have an emergency supply kit ready in your home, vehicle and work.

The emergency kit should contain supplies such as non-perishable food, medicines and baby items. Plan to have a supply to last at least three to five days. Some of these items may already be in your home from your hurricane kit.

In case of power outages during these colder months, consider having extra blankets and warm clothing to wear in layers if you are without heat for a few hours.

Never run a generator in an enclosed space. Make sure your carbon monoxide detector is working correctly and that the outside vent is clear of leaves and debris. During or after the storm, make sure it is cleared of snow. Home fires are common each winter when trying to stay warm.

Review ways to keep your home and loved ones safe in the event of a home fire.

Winter Emergency Kit

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio to receive emergency information
  • Extra food and water such as dried fruit, nuts, granola bars and other food requiring no cooking or refrigeration.
  • Extra prescription medicine
  • Baby items such as diapers and formula
  • First-aid supplies
  • Heating fuel: refuel before you are empty; fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a winter storm
  • Emergency heat source: fireplace, wood stove or space heater properly ventilated to prevent a fire
  • Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm; test smoke alarms monthly to ensure they work properly
  • Extra pet food and warm shelter for pets

Winterize your emergency kits.

Stay Ahead. Stay Informed.

The National Weather Service winter outlook forecast for the 2023-24 season expects above normal temperatures this winter. Across Virginia, above normal precipitation totals are favored with Southeastern Virginia having the highest probability of receiving above normal precipitation, according to the National Weather Service.

Stay informed by knowing your winter weather season terminology.

Watches: Issued when a storm is in its early stage of development and may create conditions that harm life or property.

  • Winter storm watch: Issued when heavy snow, dangerous ice accumulation or blizzard conditions are possible. Winter storm watches are typically issued 24-48 hours before a winter storm starts. Watches are issued when at least 3 inches of snow, and/or 1/4 inch or more of ice accumulation is expected in a 12-to-24-hour period.
  • Wind chill watch: Issued when dangerously cold wind chills are possible typically in the next 12-48 hours.

Warnings: Issued when the threat of life and property is imminent or has already begun from severe winter weather.

  • Winter storm warning: Issued when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, freezing rain, sleet or any combination is imminent or occurring. Winter storm warnings are typically issued 12-36 hours before the event is expected to start.
  • Ice storm warning: Issued when dangerous ice accumulations are expected within the next 12-36 hours.
  • Blizzard warning: Issued when sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more prevail, combined with falling or blowing snow, visibility of one quarter of a mile or less, and last for at least three hours.
  • Snow squall warning: Issued for short duration intense bursts of snow and wind leading to whiteout visibility and possible flash freezes on roads.
  • Wind chill warning: Issued when the combination of extreme cold and winds occur. This combination will result in frostbite, hypothermia, or even death when exposed in this type of condition for an extended period. These are issued when wind chill values are expected to be less than 15 degrees.

Advisories: Issued for less serious weather conditions that will not cause immediate threat to life and property. Advisories will be issued when weather conditions will impact motorists, outdoor activities, or public events.

  • Winter weather advisory: Issued for accumulations of snow, lake effect snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, or sleet, that will create inconveniences. During an advisory, if caution is not exercised, life and property may be threatened. Snow of a coasting to less than 3 inches and any amount of ice accretion.
  • Wind chill advisory: Issued when wind chill temperatures create inconvenience to life with prolonged exposure. If caution is not exercised, hypothermia and frostbite may occur. Issued for wind chill values less than 0 degrees but not colder than minus 14 degrees.


Emergency Preparedness website: Residents can find more valuable resources and information on emergency preparedness at

Sign up & Subscribe: In additional to signing up for VBAlert, residents are also encouraged to subscribe to the City of Virginia Beach’s weekly email newsletter, “Be in the Know,” at

The City of Virginia Beach Emergency Management team promotes a comprehensive emergency management program to mitigate Virginia Beach's impacts from man-made, natural or technological disasters. Learn more at

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