ASHEVILLE NC – There are few things more frustrating than getting into a cold vehicle on a frigid morning, turning the key and having nothing happen. Cold temperatures can negatively affect the battery, fuel, oil, belts, and hoses, making it difficult to start your engine. By taking some of the following precautions below, you will have a better chance of starting your vehicle and keeping it running this winter.
Test the battery. Take the battery to a local auto parts store or use a simple at-home battery tester to make sure it’s fully charged. If the charge is low, hook the battery up to a charger. The average lifespan of a battery is 3-5 years. If your battery shows ‘weak’ and it’s in the 3-5 year age range, it’s probably time to replace it.
Check the battery cables. These should be attached to your battery tightly, ensuring a strong connection to the engine.
Clean the battery posts and clamps. Corrosion can keep your battery from making a good connection. A simple mixture of baking soda and water applied with an old toothbrush can clean this off easily. Be sure to dry off the posts and clamps and retighten them when done.
Use an engine block heater. In extremely low temperatures, this simple electric device heats the engine block to keep the battery, oil, and other components at a reasonable temperature. This helps the engine start more quickly.
Check the belts and hoses for cracks and wear. Cold weather can make these parts more brittle, causing them to break more easily.
Fill up the gas tank. This can keep fuel from freezing, and it helps prevent the vapor from condensing or turning into crystals. Keeping the tank at least half full during extreme cold is a good rule of thumb.
Test your antifreeze. Even if you have antifreeze in your engine, it may be at the end of its life cycle or you may not have the right water/coolant (50/50) mix to protect against the cold. Antifreeze/coolants come in a variety of colors and chemistries these days. If you need to top off or replace your antifreeze/coolant, check your owner’s manual for the recommended antifreeze type.
Use a fuel additive like Heet to prevent freeze-ups in fuel lines. This helps eliminate water in the fuel lines, but if your fuel line is already frozen, it won’t help. Fuel line antifreeze also increases the evaporation rates of cold gasoline, which can affect how well the engine fires.
Turn off the radio, heat, and lights before starting the engine. These extra functions sap power from the battery, which is already weakened by the cold weather.
Spray the door locks with WD-40. To drive your car, you have to be able to get inside. Spraying the locks with WD-40 or graphite can help prevent them from freezing up overnight. You can also lube the door’s gaskets with silicone or WD-40 to keep the door from freezing to the jamb. A standard deicer is a good thing to keep handy if you forget to do this beforehand.
ASHEVILLE NC – The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it. If you must drive, don’t go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.
Make sure your car is prepared, and that you know how to handle road conditions.
It’s helpful to practice winter driving techniques in a snowy, open parking lot, so you’re familiar with how your car handles. Consult your owner’s manual for tips specific to your vehicle.
Driving safely on icy roads
Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
Keep your lights and windshield clean.
Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.
If your rear wheels skid…
Take your foot off the accelerator.
Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse – this is normal.
If your front wheels skid…
Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.
As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.
If you get stuck…
Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first – it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.
An emergency situation on the road can arise at any time and you must be prepared. In addition to making sure you have a tune-up, a full tank of gas, and fresh anti-freeze, you should carry the following items in your trunk:
Properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod-type jack
Tow and tire chains
Bag of salt or cat litter
Be prepared with a “survival kit” that should always remain in the car. Replenish after use.
Essential supplies include:
Working flashlight and extra batteries
Reflective triangles and brightly-colored cloth
First aid kit
Exterior windshield cleaner
Ice scraper and snow brush
Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container
Scissors and string/cord
Non-perishable, high-energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy.
In addition, if you are driving long distances under cold, snowy, and icy conditions, you should also carry supplies to keep you warm such as heavy woolen mittens, socks, a cap, snow boots and blankets.
If You Become Stranded…
Do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation.
To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna.
If you are sure the car’s exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank.
To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the woolen items and blankets to keep warm.
Keep at least one window open slightly. Heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut.
ASHEVILLE NC – Temperatures over the next few days are expected to drop into exceptionally cold ranges, with forecasts calling for lows below zero degrees. Conditions like these present the risk of frozen water pipes.
Throughout the winter weatherevent, Asheville Water Resources staff will be available 24 hours a day for water related emergencies, leaks, breaks and no water calls. Customers can call (828) 251-1122 to report any water emergencies.
Residents can reduce the risk of frozen or burst water pipes in their homes by:
· Disconnecting and draining all garden hoses and installing covers on outside faucets
· Keeping garage or basement doors closed if there are water lines running through them
· Opening kitchen and bathroom doors to allow heat to circulate around the plumbing
· Wrapping pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or heating tape
· Opening a cold water tap in the sink to let water run at a trickle and allowing water to move through pipes
If you suspect your water may be frozen at the meter, you can call the number above to have a meter technician check on it.
The City of Asheville continues to address the impact of winter storm events, clearing sidewalks adjacent to city-owned property and salting and sanding roads. However, at temperatures below 5 degrees, materials used to thaw ice are less effective. Drivers and pedestrians alike are advised to use extreme caution and not travel unless it is absolutely necessary.
This and other weather updates can be found at ashevillenc.gov.
ASHEVILLE NC – The potential for frozen pipes increases dramatically when temperatures drop below freezing. With the predicted extreme cold coming our way, here are some tips to help you keep your pipes from freezing and to help you know what to do if they do freeze.
Be aware of which pipes are most likely to freeze.
In an outside wall behind a sink.
Where pipes run through crawlspaces under houses.
Where exterior faucets are not shut off on the interior.
It’s hard to find the spot where cold air hits a pipe directly and freezes the line. It can freeze in one location and keep the whole line from flowing. Look for where a pipe may pass a crawlspace vent, basement window, or run along a sill plate. Look for areas where there is cold air coming in.
Precautions to Take
If you haven’t already taken the steps necessary to avoid pipes freezing here are some precautionary steps you can take:
Know where and how to shut off your water from the main shut-off valve.
Seal air leaks around pipes that allow cold air to seep in.
Insulate pipes near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in attics.
In exposed or problem areas, you may use heat tape or heat cables to prevent freezing. Make certain they are UL approved and that you follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Disconnect garden hoses, shut off and drain water from pipes leading outside.
Turn your faucet on just enough to have constant dripping (for pipes that may be on exterior wall)
Open cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate around pipes under a sink. It may be necessary to remove a piece of the drywall so the warm inside air can reach the pipes.
Leave heat on and set no lower than 55 degrees.
If you plan to be away from home, have someone check on your house daily.
Close foundation vents if the temperature drops below freezing for a significant period of time. Re-open when weather warms.
Putting a light near a chronic location where pipes freeze will keep the pipe from freezing. Be careful not to let the bulb or lamp get too close to any combustible surface.
If Pipes Freeze
Shut off water valves. Stopping the flow of water can minimize the damage to your home.
Call a plumber to thaw your pipes. Thawing yourself can lead to greater damage and can be a hazard.
If your pipes burst, call a plumber and your insurance agent.
Although we do NOT recommend thawing pipes yourself, if you do try to thaw:
Don’t try to thaw the pipes with an open flame or torch. Besides being a fire hazard, the torch’s hot flame may create steam that can burst a pipe.
Don’t use ungrounded electrical appliances outdoors, or near grounded water pipes.
Be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around water.
Never start a debris fire to warm pipes.
When thawing pipes, always work from the open faucet toward the frozen area. This will keep steam from being trapped by ice and bursting the pipe.
The safest approach to thawing a frozen pipe is to wrap a towel around the pipe at the suspected area and pour hot water onto it. Slide the towel along the suspect pipe and keep adding hot water until you reach the area where it is frozen. This method will never overheat the pipe or create a fire danger. Be sure to have the faucet or valve turned on so you’ll know when the water begins flowing.
A quick and effective method to thaw pipes is to use a hair dryer, but it can also pose some risks. Never let the pipe get hotter than what you can touch – you don’t want to get it so hot that it generates steam. As long as the pipe feels warm it should be enough to thaw the ice.
For more information, call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.
ASHEVILLE NC – We’re expecting some dangerously low temperatures, so be sure to be prepared.
One of the primary concerns is winter weather’s ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time.
Cold Weather Tips
When going outside, wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothes. These will help keep you warm while pulling moisture away from your body. A hat will preserve body heat and a scarf over your mouth will help keep cold air out of your lungs. To guard against frostbite, cover all areas of your body.
Mittens vs. Gloves. Gloves may be more fashionable but mittens can actually provide better warmth. With your fingers touching each other inside mittens, they generate more body heat than when they’re inside gloves.
Drink plenty of fluids. You may not be sweating, but breathing cold air dehydrates the body.
Protect your eyes and skin. The sun’s radiation and the wind can damage your skin and eyes. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses that screen out the UV rays. Sunlight reflecting off snow can do a lot of damage to your eyes.
Monitor weather conditions by knowing the latest weather updates.
Basic Motor Vehicle Safety in Cold Weather
Make sure your vehicle has been winterized. Get a tune-up, have the battery checked, make sure the vehicle has enough antifreeze and check the tire tread and tire pressure. Ensure that windshield washer fluid is full. Salt from the roads gets sprayed onto your windshield and can impair visibility.
Store an emergency kit in your vehicle. It should include jumper cables, flashlight, ice scraper, snow brush, small shovel, sand or kitty litter, cell phone, blankets and flares.
After Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
ASHEVILLE NC – If weather conditions make it unsafe for the trucks, garbage and recycling collection will be cancelled until conditions improve. Cancellations are announced over local radio and TV news broadcasts.
It must be safe for the collection trucks to complete their regular routes without endangering life or property; please be aware that conditions outside your own neighborhood may prevent the safe collection and transport of your materials, and that it must be safe for the drivers to pick them up.
If collection is cancelled for only one day, collection days are shifted one day later for the rest of the week, i.e. Friday rather than Thursday and Saturday rather than Friday.
If collection is cancelled for more than one day, cancelled collections will be made up on your next regular collection day, with all refuse being picked up.
Waste Pro of Asheville residential waste and recycling collection will be delayed one day in observance of Christmas. Customers scheduled for service on Thursday will be served on Friday and Friday customers will be served on Saturday.
Commercial solid waste and recycling customers will be serviced either the day before or the day after the Holiday.
ASHEVILLE NC – The outlook for a bright leaf season is improving, as Western Carolina University fearless fall foliage forecaster Kathy Mathews has updated her prediction about the quality of the annual color show, based on changing conditions in the mountains.
“The weather patterns that we have been having in Western North Carolina in recent weeks should mean a brighter display of fall colors than originally thought,” said Mathews, an associate professor of biology at WCU who specializes in plant systematics. “The drier, sunnier weather improves our chances of a brilliant fall color season.”
Mathews bases her color forecast in part on weather conditions. She believes that the formation of higher levels of pigments in the leaves correlates with dry weather throughout the year, especially in the spring and September.
Although a wet spring with above-average amounts of rainfall originally pointed to an autumn with spotty colors across the mountains, the development of dry conditions in late August and September should improve the overall outlook and produce vibrant bursts of color, she said.
In addition, the seasonal forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls for slightly above-average temperatures this fall in the Southeast. If that prediction pans out, the color season could be longer than normal, extending well into November, Mathews said.
The timing of “peak color” is difficult to nail down and is dependent on the decreasing amount of sunlight that comes with the passing days, plus the elevation of a particular location, she said. The peak of fall color typically arrives during the first and second week of October in the highest elevations – above 4,000 feet – and during the third week of October in the mid-elevations of 2,500 to 3,500 feet. An early frost could accelerate the timing of peak color, Mathews said.
In any event, visitors to WNC always will find a pleasing leaf display somewhere in the mountains from September into November, with a vast palette of color made possible by the region’s more than 100 tree species, she said.
ASHEVILLE NC – The Cradle of Forestry in America invites the public to attend “Frog Love in the Pink Beds,” Feb. 15, 2014. The program’s indoor portion begins at 1:00 p.m. in the Forest Discovery Center and is followed by a guided walk to seek out frog habitats near the Center and along a portion of the Pink Beds Trail, returning by 4:00 p.m.
Warm, wet weather this time of year can pull frogs from their hiding places to find mates and lay eggs in woodland waters. The program explores this ages-old phenomenon that gives the hope of spring. The indoor slide presentation focuses on the natural history of the wood frog and amphibian conservation. The program moves outdoors about 2:00 p.m. to peek at the garden pool directly behind the Center that has been attracting frogs since its construction in 1996. If the timing is not right for frogs, it may be right for seeing eggs or tadpoles.
After a discussion by the garden pool, Cradle staff will host a guided walk to the boardwalks along the Pink Beds Trail to look for natural amphibian haunts and other features of the woods.
Since frogs love rain, the program will be held unless wintry conditions make travel to the Cradle of Forestry hazardous. Call the Cradle at 828-877-3130 with questions. The program is free, but donations are welcome.
The Cradle of Forestry is located in the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, on NC Highway 276, 6 miles north of Looking Glass Falls and 4 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Daily operations and services for the 2014 season begin on April 12. Visit www.cradleofforestry.com for information about the Cradle of Forestry in America.