Emergency Management

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Snow plows riding down a city street

Winter Weather Preparedness

Source: Virginia Department of Emergency Management

Winter storms can range from freezing rain or ice, to a few hours of moderate snowfall, to a blizzard that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures, power outages and unpredictable road conditions.

Before, during and after a winter storm, roads and walkways may become extremely dangerous or impassable. Access to critical community services such as public transportation, child care, healthcare providers and schools may be limited. Preparing your home, car and family before cold weather and a winter storm arrives is critical.

  • During a winter storm, stay off the roads as much as possible and only drive when absolutely necessary. Always give snow plows the right of way.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning device inside your home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any other partially enclosed area.
  • Snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks! Always avoid overexertion when shoveling.
  • When severe weather occurs, plan to check on elderly or disabled neighbors and relatives.
  • If you must travel, know road conditions before you leave home. Visit 511Virginia.org or call 511 for road condition updates.
  • Protect yourself from Frostbite! Hands, feet and face are the most commonly affected areas so wear a hat, mittens (which are warmer than gloves) and cover your mouth with a scarf to reduce heat loss.
  • Keep dry! Change out of wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat.
  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer or heavy clothing.

Winter Storm Watch vs Warning

Watch – BE AWARE: Severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.

Warning – TAKE ACTION: Severe winter conditions have either begun or will begin soon in your area.

Prepare Your Home

  • Make sure your home is properly insulated 
  • Check the weather stripping around your windows and doors
  • Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts
  • Have additional heat sources  on hand in case of a power outages
  • Keep a fire extinguisher accessible
  • Replace the batteries in your Carbon Monoxide detector annually

Prepare Your Car

  • Batteries lose power as temperatures drop, be sure to have yours tested
  • Check your car’s antifreeze level 
  • Have your radiator system serviced
  • Replace your car’s windshield wiper fluid with a wintertime mix
  • Proactively replace your car’s worn tires and wiper blades
  • To help with visibility, clean off your car entirely – including your trunk, roof, windows and headlights
  • Create an emergency checklist and prepare a Go-Bag to keep in your vehicle

More safety information can also be found at www.ready.gov(link is external).


We are a StormReady Community

The City received recognition from the National Weather Service as a StormReady Community by meeting the preparedness criteria identified in their program.  To learn more about this program, please visit NWS StormReady Program.

Get Emergency Alerts

Receive notifications about emergencies and non-emergency (refuse/recycling schedule changes, snow plan activations, City facility closures, scheduled road closures, etc.) by signing up for our notification system

Create an account and receive time-sensitive messages however, you specify, such as your home, mobile or business phones, email address, text messages and more. Register a 22601 address (work, home, school, church, etc.).

Report Power Outages Immediately

If you experience a power outage, please call Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative. SVEC urges its customers to call 1-800-234-7832 anytime there is a power outage and to not assume that others have reported the outage.  By calling any time you experience an outage, you help crews respond more efficiently and restore your service more quickly.

Emergency Sheltering | Refugios de emergencia

When an emergency happens in the city that causes a large number of residents to evacuate their homes, the City may activate a mass care emergency shelter. Click here to learn more about what to bring to a shelter, shelter rules, and what to expect if you need to evacuate to a City shelter. 

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Emergency Operations Plan

The City of Winchesters Emergency Operations Plan is an all-discipline, all-hazards plan that establishes a single, comprehensive framework for managing incidents in the city.  It is compatible with the National Response Framework and provides the structure for coordinating within our local and with the state government in delivery of disaster assistance.  The plan improves the City of Winchester’s capability to respond to and recover from threatened or actual natural, technological or man-made disasters.  

Hazard Mitigation Plan

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Region - Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters.  It is most effective when implemented under a comprehensive, long-term mitigation plan.  State, tribal, and local governments engage in hazard mitigation planning to identify risks and vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters, and develop long-term strategies for protecting people and property from future hazard events.  Mitigation plans are key to breaking the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage.

Scott E. Kensinger, VPEM, EFO, MA
Emergency Management Coordinator
Public Services Building
301 E. Cork Street
Winchester, VA  22601

(540) 773-1360

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