By: Bonnie Davis Guy
Weather forecasters, such as the Weather Channel, the Farmers Almanac, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and weather bloggers, such as First Hand Weather, are looking at the 2015/2015 winter weather forecast for our area and see a strong El Nino season. So what does that even mean?
In a nutshell, the ocean waters in the Pacific are warm, creating a warm wind. This warming causes winters that are warmer and drier in the north and northeast, and colder and wetter in the south and southeast. In addition to El Nino, meteorologists predict the jet stream will drop down and stay down this winter, creating warmer northern weather, and colder southern weather. Most sources differed slightly in their precipitation predictions but all were in full agreement that this will be a strong El Nino season and the temperature forecast will be well below normal for the south and southeast. The Farmers Almanac prediction map shows Johnson County firmly sandwiched between the wet and very chilly prediction for most of Tennessee, with snowy and unseasonably cold for southwest Virginia and western North Carolina. NOAAs forecast is more vague but does call for cold temperatures and heavier than normal precipitation in all of the southern United States. Adding insult to the injury as this region is already inflected by the cold predictions, First Hand Weathers blog broke down the country into zones and we are in zone seven, this years winter battle zone.
In order to protect our homes and ourselves should the weather take a turn for the worst, it is best to plan ahead while the weather is still good. According to the American Red Cross, it is best to do a ready check before the season. Start by cleaning and preparing your heating system. If you use wood, stock up as it may be hard to find later in the season. Check your snow removal equipment and make sure it is in working order. Go ahead and make a winter weather kit for your car as well as following car safety tips. Always keep your car full of gas in cold weather. Before inclement weather hits, check your fluids, antifreeze, battery, and brakes. Install good winter weather tires. Make sure your heater and defroster are in working order.
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