Natural disasters have become increasingly common in recent years, causing widespread losses across affected communities. In particular, extreme winter weather events (e.g., frigid temperatures, strong winds, blizzards, sleet, and freezing rain) have surged in frequency and severity throughout multiple regions in the United States—not just those with colder climates. These events have the potential to result in significant property damage, breakdowns in critical infrastructure, and serious injuries and fatalities.
Over the past decade, several winter weather events have generated multibillion-dollar losses. For example, the 2021 Texas winter storm is currently the costliest U.S. winter weather event on record. During this storm, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that a historic cold wave swept across the state, with temperatures 40 degrees Fahrenheit below average. The prolonged, below-freezing weather damaged many structures due to burst pipes and caused substantial power outages, leaving 10 million people without power during its peak. Altogether, the storm led to nearly 200 fatalities and more than $30 billion in total losses.
The impact of extreme winter weather events on businesses can be devastating, resulting in major commercial building and vehicle damage; lost production, sales, income, and labor time; additional transportation costs; decreased tourist activity; and utility disruptions. In fact, 40% of small businesses never reopen following a natural disaster, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Labor. It’s crucial for businesses to take steps to safeguard their operations against winter storms. That’s where this guide can help.
This guide provides actionable suggestions and best practices—which include assessing winter weather risks and taking steps before, during, and after a storm—to help businesses minimize related losses. It also contains an appendix with additional winter weather preparedness and response resources. By utilizing this guide, businesses can equip themselves with the information needed to remain resilient amid extreme winter weather events.