RALEIGH, N.C. -- State officials are preparing for the first winter storm of the New Year.

Latest: School Delays/Closing List

A winter storm watch begins Wednesday for many eastern counties in the state. Bitter cold air from an arctic blast means temperatures are expected to average well below normal for the rest of the week.

Related: Extreme Cold Weather Safety Guide

Governor Roy Cooper said, “Snowfall amounts can be very hard to predict in North Carolina, as we saw in early December in western North Carolina.”

“A small change in a storm's track can make a big difference in how much snow falls and where. That's why we're making sure North Carolina is prepared for whatever this storm could bring, and why I encourage families and businesses to get ready.”

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm advisory, watch or warning for most counties east of Interstate 95 in North Carolina excluding the Outer Banks beginning Wednesday morning and running into Thursday.

Related: Snow Threat For Coastal, Eastern NC

NC DOT crews are brining major roadways, bridges, and overpasses ahead of the winter weather. However, with the extremely cold temperatures, it will be more difficult to clear the roads. Brine can only be applied when temperatures are above 20 degrees. That's because the brine solution can freeze onto the roadways and create icy conditions. Crews will have to wait for temperatures to rise during the daytime to clear any ice.

Emergency officials also warn to have a plan in the event of power outages. “These extreme cold temperatures can be life-threatening if people lose power and heat,” said NC Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry.

“Many counties are ready with plans for warming centers, should they be needed. People should make sure they are ready for the cold, and should stay off the roads while conditions are dangerous.”

To be ready for winter weather, North Carolina Emergency Management officials urge you to:

• Dress warmly for the cold. Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing.

• Always keep at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food in your home.

• Keep alternative heating sources and fire extinguishers on hand.

• Be sure your family knows how to use them.

• Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep electric generators outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not burn charcoal or use a grill indoors.

• Use a NOAA Weather Radio or monitor local news media for changing weather conditions. Keep fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights.

• If your pipes are uninsulated, keep faucets open to a slow drip to prevent pipes from freezing.

• Keep pets inside, out of the cold. Download the ReadyNC app for more winter weather preparedness information.

The State Highway Patrol offers these tips for travel during winter weather:

• Store an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include a windshield scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first aid kit and road map.

• Keep your cell phone charged.

• Monitor fuel levels.

• Clear your windshield and other windows of snow and ice before traveling.

• Use headlamps and windshield wipers.

• Plan for delays and longer than usual travel times.

• Increase your following distance.

• Decrease your speed.

• Choose several routes as some roadways may be closed.

• Share your travel plans/routes with others.

• Always be aware of your location in case you become stranded.

• If your vehicle becomes disabled, stay inside the vehicle until assistance arrives.

• Contact 911 or *HP in emergency situations only. Visit DriveNC.gov for roadway conditions.

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