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Andrew M. Cuomo - Governor

Governor Cuomo Declares Winter Ice Storm Emergency, Activates State Emergency Operations Center to Respond to Winter Ice Storm

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Storm Expected to Create Difficult Travel, Flooding and Potential Power Outage Conditions in Parts of the State


Albany, NY (December 21, 2013)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today declared a winter ice storm emergency for the State's North Country and activated the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to respond to a winter ice storm that has moved into New York State and may bring significant icing caused by freezing rain in the western and northern portions of the state, as well as moderate rainfall amounts.

 

This rain may combine with melting snow from unseasonably high temperatures, resulting in mild to moderate flooding. The storm is expected to create hazardous driving conditions in the affected areas, and motorists are advised to use extreme caution. Representatives from State agencies will staff the EOC to help coordinate the State’s response, including the New York Division of Military and Naval Affairs, the State Police, the Department of Environment and Conservation, the Department of Transportation, the Public Service Commission and the Thruway Authority.

 

The National Weather Service in Buffalo has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Genesee, Monroe, Niagara, Northern Erie, and Orleans Counties, and a Winter Storm Warning for Jefferson and Lewis Counties. These are in effect from tonight until Sunday evening. Potential ice accumulations of up to an inch are expected, with the greatest accumulation occurring around the Saint Lawrence and Black Rivers. Ice accumulations may cause downing of large trees and power lines causing widespread power outages.

 

“With a winter ice storm moving into parts of New York, we are taking precautions to protect our residents as well as help keep our roadways clear and infrastructure working,” Governor Cuomo said. “I have directed state agencies to take all necessary actions to be prepared to respond to the expected icy conditions, and we will actively monitor the storm as it begins to hit the state. I urge New Yorkers in affected communities to use common sense, avoid traveling, and stay out of harm’s way until the storm has passed and conditions are safe.”

 

Clinton, Essex, Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties have declared States of Emergency, effective as of 4:00 p.m. New York State Police and DHSES are staffing EOCs in Clinton, St Lawrence and Franklin Counties.

 

Jerome M. Hauer, Commissioner, New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services said, “We have been in touch with the counties that are in the track of the storm and several will open their local Emergency Operations Centers (St. Lawrence, Franklin & Clinton counties), which will also include staff from our Division’s regional Emergency Management offices. The counties have been in touch with local utilities and county/state DOTs. In addition, state stockpiles will be ready to deploy generators and other supplies as needed."

 

The New York State Department of Transportation has 1,468 plows and 3,607 operators and supervisors available statewide to clear snow and treat roads with salt. NYSDOT crews in will be out before the storm in affected regions pre-treating the roads with salt to help slow ice and snow buildup. A regional breakdown of DOT assets is as follows:

  • Capital Region: 178 plows, 496 operators & supervisors
  • Mohawk Valley: 99 plows, 281 operators & supervisors
  • Central NY-Syracuse: 98 plows, 282 operators & supervisors
  • Finger Lakes-Rochester: 108 plows, 291 operators & supervisors
  • Western NY: 187 plows, 490 operators & supervisors
  • Southern Tier-Hornell: 80 plows, 153 operators & supervisors
  • North Country: 121 plows, 339 operators & supervisors
  • Hudson Valley: 227 plows, 511 operators & supervisors
  • Binghamton-Catskills: 153 plows, 430 operators & supervisors
  • Long Island: 217 plows, 334 operators & supervisors

 

The Thruway Authority has 203 plows and 559 operators available system-wide for storm response. A regional breakdown of Thruway Authority assets is as follows:

  • NY Division: 47 plows, 132 operators
  • Albany Division: 46 plows, 126 operators
  • Syracuse Division: 51 plows, 121 operators
  • Buffalo Division: 59 plows, 180 operators

 

DEC staff are monitoring the state's stream gauge network to track storm impacts on stream levels, and are in contact with local partners to ensure all flood control projects are ready for operation, if needed. DEC is also prepared to activate and operate state flood control projects if stream levels rise to the critical levels and will notify county emergency coordinators if this action becomes necessary.

 

The New York Power Authority has conducted detailed pre-storm briefings with the leaders of the NY Independent System Operators and all New York State utilities to reinforce the need to be on high alert and prepare according to NYPA’s standard emergency management plans. National Grid and NYSEG have crews in place and are ready for deployment.

 

Specific NYPA Regional Preparedness Actions:

 

Northern New York Region:

 

Preparatory Actions:

 

The storm is not expected to operationally impact the Northern Region, but preparations have been made in case of ice issues this weekend.

  • Site Senior staff notified, staffing support will be based on conditions
  • No operational issues at this time.
  • Small gas engines, all generators, chain saws have been checked and are operational.
  • All applicable vehicles and equipment available, chippers, and tree trailer has been made accessible.
  • Transmission crews ready and available as necessary.

 

Central New York Region

 

Preparatory Actions:

The site has initiated normal preparations for potential flooding, including:

 

The latest NWS forecast is calling for up to 2" of rain in the Schoharie watershed on top of existing snowfall.

 

Operations is in contact with Schoharie County OEM and the National Weather Service.

 

  • Pre-staged and cabled-up emergency generators.
  • Fueled up and tested all necessary equipment.
  • The site is staffed appropriately, fully prepared, and may need to manage high water levels late this weekend.
  • If needed, the line crew will be prepared for dispatch.

 

Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:

  • Never follow a snowplow too closely or attempt to pass one. Remember that the highway ahead of the plow is usually snow-covered;
  • Adjust speed for road conditions and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles;
  • Schedule extra time for winter travel and be patient during ice and snow removal operations;
  • Assume that bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces;
  • Be wary of black ice, which can be difficult to see but makes conditions slippery when pavement temperatures are below freezing;
  • Have a cell phone handy, if possible, but do not text while driving; distracted driving is illegal and becomes even more dangerous during storm events;
  • Never venture from your vehicle if snowbound;
  • Equip your car with emergency supplies including sand, shovel, flares, booster cables, rope, ice scraper, portable radio, flashlight, blankets and extra warm clothes;
  • Inform a responsible person of your destination, intended route, and estimated time of arrival; and
  • Keep calm and do not panic in case of a vehicle breakdown, accident, or if you become snowbound.

 

NYSDOT provides a travel advisory system that features real-time travel reports and can be accessed by phone at 511 or online www.511ny.org. The Web site features a color-coded map indicating which state roads are snow covered, ice covered, wet, dry, or closed to help travelers determine if travel is advisable. The system provides real-time snow and ice conditions for interstates and other heavily traveled roads, as reported by snowplow operators.

 

Thruway travelers can find real-time traffic and road condition updates at www.Thruway.ny.gov and can sign up for TRANSAlert emails, or follow @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter. Also for more information and to sign up for free alerts about hazardous travel conditions in your area, go towww.nyalert.gov.

 

Thruway travelers can also find useful information on the Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) stations which broadcast traffic advisories, road conditions, and safety tips 24-hours-a-day. HAR frequencies can be found athttp://www.thruway.ny.gov/travelers/har/index.html.

 

An ice storm warning is issued by the National Weather Service when a heavy accumulation of ice will cause hazardous if not impossible driving conditions. Citizens should consider postponing any travel in any Winter Storm Warning area. If driving is unavoidable, use extreme caution, and carry a winter emergency kit in case you are stranded. Roads may become blocked by downed trees and power lines. If you lose power and plan on running a generator, make sure that the generator is located outdoors and is properly ventilated. Space heaters should also be properly ventilated and used only if they are operating properly. Make sure snow does not block exhausts and fresh air intakes for high efficiency furnaces and water heaters.

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