Winter is still two weeks away, but central North Carolina could get a preview this weekend.
Meteorologists are tracking a storm expected to move into the Tar Heel State and begin impacting Orange County and the surrounding area late Saturday and into Sunday.
Orange County Emergency Services emergency management coordinator Kirby Saunders said county officials are monitoring the storm as it approaches.
“As is typically the case, Orange County seems to be stuck in the middle,” Saunders said, “between a potential rain area, a wintry mix and-or potentially snow.”
Orange County is near the dividing line that could see either a significant snowstorm or more rain that snow.
“Don’t focus on necessarily what and how much will fall,” Saunders advised, “but focus on the impacts from any winter weather.”
The county sees an uptick in injuries from trips, slips and falls during wintry storms, Saunders said.
Saunders added the county is preparing for the storm in order to respond and coordinate with towns across the county.
This first chance of wintry weather also happens to come during Winter Weather Preparedness Week. Saunders said it is an important time to prepare not only for the approaching potential storm but for the winter as a whole, which means preparing a kit of food, water, medicine and other materials to last for three days.
That should include family members, pets and others, according to Saunders.
“Folks that may have neighbors who are unable to prepare themselves, we would encourage people to make an effort to help their neighbor or friend or relatives.”
Officials advise that a version of those emergency kits should be kept in vehicles as well. Residents are encouraged to stay off the road Sunday and into Monday, depending on the conditions, if possible.
After the storm, Saunders said it is important to only use proper equipment to heat your home.
“When the temps drop, people bring additional heating sources into their home; they plug in additional space heaters or they use unsafe practices to heat their home.”
Saunders said to avoid using your oven as a heating source and to avoid bringing in items that will bring carbon monoxide into residences.
File photo from 2016 storm in Orange County