How extreme will winter be this year? It's an important question for homeowners trying to protect their houses against the worst of the winter season – whether that be due to snow and ice, increased rainfall or even severe storms.
In general, here are a few things to know about Winter 2022-23 and what that may look like for your area:
- La Niña will return for the third consecutive year.
For the first time this century, La Niña is expected to return for its third straight year. This "triple dip" La Niña event is "exceptional," according to the secretary-general for the World Meteorological Organization.
A typical La Niña winter means cooler-than-normal ocean temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean, influencing weather patterns worldwide. From December 2022 through February 2023, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts wetter-than-average conditions for areas of the Ohio Valley, Great Lakes, northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest.
However, it's predicted that unusually dry conditions will be present in the southern Rockies, southern Plains, Gulf Coast and much of the Southeast, with precipitation expectancies doing only a little to alleviate drought. Along the Gulf Coast, the La Niña system is expected to generate increased lightning activity due to changes in the atmosphere.
In the Southeastern U.S., the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Seaboard has meteorologists' attention, reports AccuWeather. If the water remains warmer than usual, there is a chance for a potentially big system to develop during the second half of the winter and impact the East Coast.
Though freezing temperatures may occur in these areas as the season progresses, frost is not expected to dip into central Florida this year.
Residents across the Northeast and Midwest should experience a relatively mild start to the winter, with waves of cold air coming in from Canada a few times in November and December. When cold air does arrive and mixes with lingering warmth, it could spark out-of-season severe weather.
In terms of snow, the atmosphere will be ready to create early-season snow, starting a "bookend winter." In Kansas, for example, warmth and above-normal temperatures should continue through most of December.
However, things will take a turn as the calendar flips to 2023. The polar vortex, a large pocket of frigid air in the Arctic Circle, will bring brutally cold air across the Rockies and central U.S. in February.
In general, parts of Illinois and Indiana are expected to receive more rain with the potential for flooding, while Minnesota residents can expect snowier periods.
How to Prepare Your Home for Winter Weather
Homeowners should begin preparing now by winterizing their houses and creating winter fire safety plans. Dealing with a disaster would be a poor way to spend the holidays or kick off a new year. Continue reading to discover steps you can follow in the fall to prepare your home for the winter.
From heating to holiday decorations, cooking to candle use, the risk for fire increases during the winter months. The good news is, home fires are largely preventable.
Inspect for electrical and appliance safety. According to Ready.gov, check for frayed wires that can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately and do not run cords under rugs or furniture. Additionally, immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch or have lights that flicker. Keep washer and dryer fans in mind as well.
Clean chimneys and woodstove pipes annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
Make sure your portable space heaters have an automatic shut-off and have been evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Since Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking fires, pay attention in the kitchen. Always keep an eye on the stove, oven or other appliances you use to cook.
Water Damage Prevention
Water damage—particularly damage linked to frozen and burst pipes—accounts for the lion's share of homeowners insurance claims. Additionally, with higher winter temps predicted in some parts of the U.S., areas that usually receive snow may see more rain instead. Be ready for the possibility of home water damage with these tips:
Drain garden hoses and sprinklers before the first frost so they don't burst when spring arrives and you attempt to use them again.
Shut down the pool, and shut off water valves to any outside spigots.
Inspect your roof. Check for existing leaks, and make sure your roof can handle the weight of accumulating snow.
Trim tree limbs so overhanging branches don't fall on your roof during a snow or rainstorm and create property damage.
Clean your gutters. Blocked gutters prevent water, whether from melting snow or fresh rainfall, from flowing down and away from your home.
Swap in storm windows. By installing glass storm windows, you're providing an added layer of protection against driving rain during a heavy or severe storm. It also creates an insulating layer should the outside air be cold.
For more information about property damage prevention, or to request disaster restoration services, please contact ServiceMaster DSI online or by phone at 800-954-9444. Our trained mitigation professionals are ready to respond whenever you need help, 24/7/365.