March 1, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Activates State Emergency Operations Center and Deploys Senior Officials in Advance of Winter Storm

TOP Governor Cuomo Activates State Emergency...

Strong Winds on Long Island Could Lead to Power Outages

Moderate Coastal Flooding and Damaging Winds from Coastal System to Impact New York City and Long Island Regions Friday and Saturday

Rain and Heavy, Wet Snow Expected Upstate Thursday into Friday

State Agencies Ready Assets for Deployment

WYSIWYG

Governor Cuomo today announced that the State Emergency Operations Center is being activated with State Emergency Management as a complex storm system will impact the state Thursday through Friday evening, bringing strong winds and heavy snow and rain. At the Governor's direction, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will be deployed to Buffalo, while Director of State Operations Cathy Calhoun and other senior administration officials will be deployed to Regional Emergency Operations Centers in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Binghamton, Albany, Westchester County, New York City and Long Island.

This storm will begin as rain Thursday evening and transition to snow from west to east across the state on Friday. In New York City and Long Island, the forecast calls for rain accompanied by strong winds which will likely lead to coastal flooding in low lying areas and could cause tree damage and power outages. The Friday morning and evening commutes in areas receiving snow will be slow and hazardous due to wintery conditions and low visibility.

"As the saying goes, March is coming in like a lion and we are preparing for heavy snow, rain, and flooding across New York this weekend," said Governor Cuomo. "As we are preparing for whatever Mother Nature throws our way, I am asking for everyone to listen to weather forecasts in your community and take the necessary precautions to prepare for conditions."

"We stand ready and plan to deploy our agencies and provide resources to help communities that will be impacted by the impending Nor'easter," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "We encourage New Yorkers to prepare for heavy snowfall, rain and high winds and if possible to avoid travel and stay indoors. We urge those who have to travel to take extreme caution to ensure their safety in the event of high snow accumulation and potential flooding."

Current Forecasts

Winter Storm and Flood Watches and Warnings have been posted for many areas upstate. For a current list of active alerts from the National Weather Service click here.

On Long Island and in New York City, winds of 40 mph are forecast with gusts as high as 70 mph possible in eastern Long Island. These high winds have the potential to result in tree damage and power outages with the coastal areas facing the greatest risk. Two to 3 inches of rain is forecast which could lead to flooding in poor drainage and urban areas. Moderate coastal flooding and beach erosion is expected Friday morning and there is a potential for moderate coastal flooding Friday evening into Saturday evening during times of high tide across the South and East bays of Long Island, Jamaica Bay, and the Atlantic coast.

In the Mid-Hudson Valley Region, parts of Orange County will receive the highest snowfall totals of around 4 to 8 inches with the rest of the region receiving less than an inch of snow. Heavy rain is also forecast in the region with at least 2 inches of rainfall expected. Strong winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph can lead to downed trees and wires. Southern Westchester county could see 40 mph winds with gusts as high as 60 mph. 

In the North Country, snow will spread from south to north late Thursday and continue through Friday, mixing with, and changing to rain in the lower elevations Friday afternoon. The precipitation will change back over to all snow Friday night before coming to an end early Saturday morning. The northern Adirondacks and southern St. Lawrence Valley will remain mostly snow, and 4 to 8 inches of accumulation are expected in these areas. Many locations in the region will see wind gusts in the 30 to 40 mph range and 45 to 55 mph wind gusts in the mountains. Power outages are possible with winds of this magnitude. 

In the Capital Region and Mohawk Valley, the storm will begin tonight as rain and transition to snow overnight and start winding down Saturday morning. The heaviest snowfall rates will be around an inch per hour. Total anticipated snow accumulations vary, with Albany seeing 1 to 4 inches, and west of Albany into the Mohawk Valley may see 5 to 8 inches, with possible localized amounts up to 12 inches. Areas in higher elevations west of the Hudson River which includes the Catskills, the Helderbergs, and the Schoharie Valley, will receive the most snow where areas over 1,000 feet could see 18 to 24 inches of snow.

In the Western NY and Finger Lakes Regions, the storm is expected to begin around 6 P.M. on Thursday and will continue through Friday evening.  The heaviest snowfall rates will be around one inch per hour, with areas south of Buffalo and Rochester receiving the highest snowfall totals of 8 to 14 inches. Driving will be extremely difficult, especially during the Friday morning commute.  In the Southern Tier and Central NY Regions, the storm will begin Thursday evening and end late Friday night. Sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph are expected with gusts up to 40 mph in some areas are possible. Generally, 8 to 15 inches of snow is expected through the duration of the storm. The Department of Transportation is sending 10 plow trucks, 16 operators and one supervisor from Long Island to the Southern Tier in anticipation of the pending storm.

State Agency Preparations:

All New Yorkers can obtain emergency information through NY-ALERT, the State's free, all-hazards, web-based alert and notification system. To subscribe, visit nyalert.gov. If you do not own or have access to a computer, call toll-free 1-888-697-6972.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

At the Governor's direction, the State Emergency Operations Center will be activating for enhanced monitoring and Commissioner Roger Parrino will deployed to the New York City/Long Island areas along with State Operations Director Cathy Calhoun. Additionally, State Director of Emergency Management Kevin Wisely and Deputy Director Dan O'Hara will be deployed to Albany and Syracuse, respectively. State Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito will oversee operations in Utica.

The Division is coordinating preparations and resource allocations with state agencies and local governments in anticipation of the storm. State stockpiles are prepared with over 700 generators, over 250 light towers, approximately 1,250 pumps, almost 100,000 sandbags, over 63,800 ready to eat meals, over 340,000 cans of water, over 4,000 flashlights, thousands of cots, blankets, and pillows, almost 1,000 traffic barriers, and over 7,000 feet of Aqua Dam temporary flood barrier. Additionally, the Division is prepared with high axle vehicles, zodiac style boats, utility tracked vehicles, and a tracked sport utility vehicle.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Roger Parrino said, "We have been actively communicating and planning with local emergency managers and state agencies for potential deployments of personnel and assets in advance of this storm. Prepare in advance for possible power outages and don't forget to check on neighbors or family that may need a helping hand.

Department of Public Service

At the Governor's direction, Department of Public Service CEO John Rhodes and Chief of Staff Thomas Congdon will be deployed to the New York City and Long Island regions where there is the greatest potential for power outages.

New York's utilities have a total of 3,800 in-house workers and contractors standing ready to assist in storm restoration efforts. This total includes resources obtained through mutual assistance. Con Edison has 425 line and tree workers on hand, plus 15 additional contractors; Central Hudson has 300 line and tree workers on hand, plus 50 additional contractors; PSEG Long Island has 705 line and tree workers, including 300 FEMA contractors, along with 50 additional contractors; National Grid has 1,200 line and tree workers on hand, NYSEG and RG&E have 785 line and tree workers on hand, plus 50 additional contractors and O&R has 210 line and tree workers on hand.

The Department of Public Service will extend Call Center Helpline hours beginning Friday, March 2 starting at 7:30 A.M until 7:30 P.M., and continuing from 9:00 AM to 5:00 P.M., Saturday, March 3, as needed, to assist consumers in their storm restoration efforts.  The Department of Public Service Call Center Helpline can be reached by calling 1-800-342-3377.

Public Service Commission staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the restoration period. The utilities are prepared to respond to power disruptions throughout the event.

Department of Public Service CEO John B. Rhodes said, "We have been actively engaged with all of our utilities to ensure that they have the necessary resources and are fully prepared to restore power quickly in the event of any outages. We continue to monitor their performance to ensure that power is restored quickly to critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and nursing homes, and we will ensure that the utilities work together to mutually respond to any need."

State Police

The New York State Police will add additional patrols during the storm to the affected areas as needed. All 4x4 vehicles are available for deployment, and all troop emergency power and communications equipment has been tested. Additionally, Superintendent George Beach II will be deployed to the Capital Region Emergency Operations Center.

New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, "The New York State Police is prepared to respond and deploy the necessary assets to keep our roadways and motorists safe before, during and after this latest storm. We are also ready to support our state agencies and emergency management teams in their safety efforts. However, we remind motorists to do their part by remaining alert and being mindful of current road and weather conditions."

The New York State Thruway Authority

New York State Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Matthew Driscoll is on-site at the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in Westchester County to monitor any impacts caused by high winds. Additionally, the Thruway Authority has 683 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 245 Large Snow Plows, 113 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 54 Loaders across the state with more than 117,000 tons of road salt on hand. Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of winter weather conditions on the Thruway.

The Thruway Authority encourages motorists to download its mobile app which is available to download for free on iPhone and Android devices. The app provides motorists direct access to real-time traffic and navigation assistance while on the go. Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert e-mails which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway by following this link: www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml.

Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said, "No matter what Mother Nature has in store for New York, Thruway crews stand at the ready to respond at a moment's notice. As we have all snow and ice season, our crews of hardworking men and women will do what it takes to keep the roads clear and passable so our customers arrive to their destinations safely."

Department of Transportation

Acting Commissioner Paul Karas and Chief of Staff Todd Westhuis are being deployed to Binghamton to oversee the state response in the Southern Tier, while Assistant Commissioner Pat Meredith will be on the scene in Rochester.

The New York State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 1,562 large plow/dump trucks, 197 medium plow/dump trucks, 323 loaders, 37 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, 52 tow plows, 14 pickup trucks with plows, and 20 graders. In addition, the Department has more than 409,000 tons of road salt on hand. To address the potential of flooding and high winds, the Department also has 16 vacuum trucks with sewer jets, 5 trailer-mounted sewer jets, 12 water pumps, 12 water tankers, 45 grapple attachments, 4 bulldozers, 31 excavators, 52 traffic signal trucks, 13 tree crew bucket trucks and 82 chippers.

Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511 or by accessing www.511ny.org before traveling. The free service allows users to check road conditions and transit information. Mobile users can download the updated, free 511NY mobile app from the iTunes or Google Play stores. The app now features Drive mode, which provides audible alerts along a chosen route while a user is driving, warning them about incidents and construction. Users can set a destination prior to departing and receive information on up to three routes.

New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, "The Department of Transportation is on alert and ready to spring into action to help our fellow New Yorkers get through these storms.  Our regional staff is equipped to deal with all weathers and I am confident that by working with our partners at the state and local level, we will be prepared for the potentially extreme weather on the horizon." 

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The Department of Subways is prepared with a range of storm-fighting actions including inspecting drains, staging emergency generators, fueling vehicles, and scheduling additional staff. If the storm continues to track for New York City, the MTA can deploy covers for the hundreds openings into the subway system in Lower Manhattan (vent shafts, stairs, manholes, etc.). Materials will be inspected and readied to be able to respond in the event of coastal flooding. Due to ongoing capital investments following Hurricane Sandy, enhanced protection measures are available at facilities throughout the city including South Ferry Station, Broad Channel, Coney Island Yard and more. Personnel will inspect and ready protection equipment to deploy as needed.

NYCT Buses are ensuring bus depot generators are fueled and in working order. Depot contingency plans are in place for depots that are prone to flooding. Drains and catch basis are being cleared to ensure they are free from debris. Defrosters, wipers, windows, roof hatches and compartment doors on all rolling stock is being checked.

The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad are monitoring the forecast of the storm carefully and making preparations throughout the regions they cover. The railroads are ensuring that employees are positioned to clear fallen trees, pump out water in areas known as prone to localized flooding, address conditions caused if any power outages should occur, and operate standby diesel locomotives. The railroads are monitoring the stability of their electrical grids and substations with heightened awareness, confirming that all fuel facilities are fully stocked for adequate supply for the duration of the storm. The railroads always operate with an eye to ensuring the safety of customers and employees, and are prepared to suspend service in segments or in whole, if needed. If significant flooding is predicted, the railroads would move trains away from low-lying storage areas.

The Bridges and Tunnel Authority is monitoring the forecast carefully and making preparations throughout the all critical facilities including ensuring weather monitoring equipment is operational and that off and on-property areas that are historically prone to flooding have been checked and are clear of debris and obstructions.  

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has made extensive preparations for personnel and equipment at all of its facilities. Operations are in place to ensure that facilities can be operated safely. The airports, bridges, tunnels and PATH also have weather desks where key personnel analyze weather reports and deploy staff and equipment. The Port Authority also is in contact with other local, state and federal officials and agencies to discuss regional preparations for the upcoming storm. 

Depending on the severity of the airlines may cancel flights in advance, so travelers should check with their carriers to make sure their flight will be taking off before going to the airport. The Port Authority also will have supplies of cots and other essential items ready to accommodate passengers who may become stranded at the airports. 

The Port Authority also urges bus travelers to check with their carriers before going to the bus terminals since many public and private carriers may cancel service if conditions warrant. The agency also may impose speed restrictions on its crossings, or close them entirely, if weather conditions warrant.

For up-to-the-minute updates on Port Authority crossings, airports and the PATH system, travelers are encouraged to sign up for Port Authority alerts at http://www.paalerts.com/. Travelers may also call 511 or visit 511NY.org or 511NJ.org for further information on highway conditions. 

Department of Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional water engineers are on alert and monitoring the developing situation. All available assets, including boats and utility vehicles, are ready to assist with any emergency response or flooding events that may occur. 

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has 29 park police, nine 4x4 vehicles, and nine ATVs on Long Island and New York City. State Park personnel and New York State Park Police continue to monitor the storm and continue to prepare and test equipment in anticipation for the mix of weather conditions that are expected throughout the state. State Park Regions in the downstate area are securing facilities against high winds and heavy rainfall, ensuring drainages are clear and maintaining lowered lake levels in preparation for increased runoff. Specific to our Long Island Region where we expect the greatest impact: facilities, are being secured for strong winds, heavy rains and storm surge. Equipment is being prepped and moved to higher elevations as appropriate. Also, LI Parks are preparing for possible staging of PSE&G equipment at some facilities if necessary.

Act Now to Be Prepared for Coastal Flooding

  • Learn the safest route from your home or business to high, safe ground should you have to leave in a hurry.
  • Develop and practice a 'family escape' plan and identify a meeting place if family members become separated.
  • Make an itemized list of all valuables including furnishings, clothing and other personal property. Keep the list in a safe place.
  • Stockpile emergency supplies of canned food, medicine and first aid supplies and drinking water. Store drinking water in clean, closed containers.
  • Plan what to do with your pets.
  • Have a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries and emergency cooking equipment available.
  • Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is cut off, gasoline stations may not be able to pump fuel for several days. Have a small disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car.
  • Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels. When predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.
  • Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency water-proofing.

Safe Travel
It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit, to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. Oftentimes on interstate highways, snowplows will operate side by side, as this is the most efficient and safe way to clear several lanes at one time.

Motorists and pedestrians should also keep in mind that snowplow drivers have limited lines of sight, and the size and weight of snowplows can make it very difficult to maneuver and stop quickly. Snow blowing from behind the plow can severely reduce visibility or cause whiteout conditions. Motorists should not attempt to pass snowplows or follow too closely. The safest place for motorists to drive is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.

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

  • When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
  • If you must travel, make sure your car is stocked with survival gear like blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods and brightly-colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
  • Keep your gas tank full to prevent gasoline freeze-up.
  • If you have a cell phone or two-way radio available for your use, keep the battery charged and keep it with you whenever traveling. If you should become stranded, you will be able to call for help, advising rescuers of your location.
  • Make sure someone knows your travel plans.

Drive Safely

The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents.

  • Before getting behind the wheel this winter season, every driver could learn a lesson from our school bus drivers. It is elementary, but we have to keep our vehicles clear of ice and snow. Good vision is a key to good driving.
  • Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars. Be extra alert. Remember, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Moreover, always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

Prepare for Power Outages

  • At home or at work, keep a battery-operated radio and flashlight on hand, as well as a supply of batteries. Keep an emergency supply of water, medications, and non-perishable foods handy. If you use medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem - check with your physician or pharmacist.
  • Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power. Charge cell phones and any battery-powered devices.
  • If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving an inch of space inside each one - this will help keep food cold if the power goes out.
  • At home or at work, keep a battery-operated radio and flashlight on hand, as well as a supply of batteries. Keep an emergency supply of water, medications, and non-perishable foods handy. If you use medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem - check with your physician or pharmacist.
  • Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power. Charge cell phones and any battery-powered devices.
  • If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving an inch of space inside each one - this will help keep food cold if the power goes out.

If You Lose Power

  • Call your utility provider to notify them of the outage and listen to local broadcasts for official information. For a list of utilities, visit the New York State Department of Public Service Check to see if your neighbors have power. Check on people with access or functional needs.
  • Use only flashlights for emergency lighting - candles pose the risk of fire.
  • Keep refrigerators and freezer doors closed - most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
  • Do not use a charcoal grill indoors and do not use a gas stove for heat - they could give off harmful levels of carbon monoxide.
  • In cold weather, stay warm by dressing in layers and minimizing time spent outdoors. Be aware of cold stress symptoms (i.e., hypothermia) and seek proper medical attention if symptoms appear.
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