Winds Gusts May Reach 70 to 75 MPH in Western New York and Western Portions of North Country; 40 to 50 MPH Throughout Rest of State
100 Members of National Guard Have Been Activated to Assist with Debris Clearance
Utilities on Standby to Respond to Power Disruptions 24 Hours a Day
All Empty Tractor Trailers and Empty Tandems Banned from Portions of New York State Thruway and Interstate Highways
State Emergency Operations Center Activated to Enhanced Monitoring Mode
Governor Cuomo Issues Letter to International Joint Commission to Maximize Lake Ontario Outflows
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the deployment of state resources to the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions in advance of a weather system this weekend that will bring extremely strong winds that could result in property damage and power outages. Winds are expected to gust at or above 45 mph much of Sunday night and Monday over the vast majority of the state, with gusts approaching 75 mph at times in Western New York and western portions of the North Country. Utilities are prepared to respond 24 hours a day to power disruptions and are mandated to implement their emergency response plans when needed. The Governor has activated 100 members of the National Guard to respond to debris clearing missions. Additionally, empty tractor trailers and empty tandems will be banned from portions of the New York State Thruway and some interstate highways in the Western New York, Central New York and Finger Lakes Regions beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, February 24.
Earlier today, Governor Cuomo issued a letter to the International Joint Commission calling on the IJC to maximize Lake Ontario outflows to prevent flooding along New York's shoreline. Lake Ontario levels are significantly higher than average, and high winds over the weekend threaten to create significant wave action and exacerbate the threat even further.
"With dangerously strong winds expected this weekend, I urge all New Yorkers to prepare for any potential power outages and to take the necessary precautions to stay safe," Governor Cuomo said. "Utilities will be working around-the-clock to respond to any power disruptions, and the State is deploying significant resources and assets including National Guard personnel to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers."
Empty tractor trailers and tandems will be banned from the following interstate highways:
- I-390 from Dansville to Rt 104
- I-490 from I-90 exit 45 to I-90 exit 47
- I-590 (full extent)
- Rt 104 at the Bay Bridge
- I-190 from Grand Island to Lewiston / Queenston
- I-290 from I-190 to I-90
- NY 5 from I-190 to NY 179 (with a full truck ban on the elevated section of the Skyway)
- US 219 from I-90 to Peters Rd
- NY 400 from NY 16 to I-90
- I-990 from I-290 to NY 263
- I-90 between exit 31 (Utica) and exit 61 (Ripley to PA line)
- Niagara Thruway (I-190)
The system will begin moving into the state today and bring some snow and rain with it. By Sunday, all regions will be experiencing rain, and a cold front will enter the state bringing strong winds with it. Currently, Western New York and the counties along Lakes Erie and Ontario are forecasted to experience the strongest of the damaging winds. Gusts will increase across Western New York beginning Sunday morning, before spreading throughout the Finger Lakes, Central New York and North Country Regions as the day progresses. Wind gusts will rapidly increase up to 75 mph across Chautauqua County, the northern Niagara Frontier, Rochester and in Jefferson County behind the front. Strong winds over Lake Erie and Lake Ontario will also likely drive an increase in water level along the shoreline, as well as create significant blowing snow with reduced visibilities Sunday night and Monday morning.
One to three inches of snow is forecasted in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions, and six to eight inches is expected in the Tug Hill Plateau region due to Lake effect germinated snow. With wind and snow combined, there will be Blizzard Warnings for Oswego, Jefferson and Lewis Counties.
Current forecasts are projecting that maximum wind gusts will reach 45 mph in New York City and on Long Island; 50 mph in the Mid-Hudson, Capital, Mohawk Valley, Central New York and Southern Tier Regions; 70 mph across the North Country; and 75 mph in the Western New York and Finger Lakes Regions.
The National Weather Service has already posted High Wind Watches and Warnings for the majority of the state. Additionally, Lakeshore Flood Watches will be in effect Sunday into Monday for the counties east of Lakes Erie and Ontario as the powerful winds will create significant wave action. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.
Motorists are reminded that State Law mandates that if an intersection is "blacked out" and the traffic signal is not operational, the intersection is automatically a "four way" stop. In the event of closed or blocked roadways due to flooding, downed power lines or debris, motorists are advised to exercise caution and obey all traffic signs or barricades in place, regardless of whether a roadway looks clear.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will activate the State Emergency Operations Center to enhanced monitoring mode on Sunday morning to closely track the weather system and its impacts. The Division is also coordinating with state agencies and local governments to ensure resources from the State's ten regional stockpiles are available for deployment throughout the storm. Currently, the stockpiles are prepared to respond to requests for assistance with assets from its stockpiles, including:
- More than 725 generators
- More than 1,250 pumps
- More than 2 million sandbags
- 19 sandbaggers
- More than 6,700 feet of Aquadam
Department of Public Service
The Department of Public Service is in contact with utility senior executives to ensure that the utilities are prepared for inclement weather, and it will be closely monitoring utility storm-preparation efforts to ensure that utilities stand ready to minimize outages and expedite outage restorations. Electric and gas utilities, as well as telecommunication service providers, such as Verizon, are prepared to bring on additional personnel to minimize service disruptions, if they occur.
New York's utilities have nearly 7,000 workers available for restoration efforts, including more than 1,700 external line and tree crews brought on for this event, to be deployed in areas most impacted. The utilities are on alert and are closely watching as the storm develops and will deploy restoration crews where needed. Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the storm event. Utilities will continue to secure added resources in anticipation of prolonged outages due to sustained winds which may delay restoration efforts.
Utilities are prepared to respond 24 hours a day to power disruptions and are mandated to implement their emergency response plans, when needed, which includes contacting customers on life-support equipment and other critical customers. New Yorkers should prepare for outages that may last several days.
In light of the potential significant inclement weather, the Department has expanded its Call Center Helpline hours beginning Sunday, Feb. 24, from 9:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M., to assist consumers in storm response and restoration efforts. The Department's Call Center Helpline can be reached by calling (800) 342-3377. Department staff will monitor and report on storm impacts and utility restoration activities throughout the event and will be present in the field, as needed.
Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the restoration period. The utilities are prepared to respond to power disruptions throughout the event.
New York Power Authority
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is preparing its facilities and operations for the forecasted weather. In Niagara, NYPA is staging equipment to prepare for any necessary ice boom repairs and for any needed ice breaking activity. In addition, NYPA has taken the necessary actions for continued safe operations to support grid reliability. NYPA transmission crews are ready to respond to events that may impact the transmission system. NYPA also is in communication with municipal utility partners and investor-owned utilities to coordinate on potential mutual aid response to outages, if needed. NYPA will continue to communicate with utility and emergency management partners and will continue to monitor weather forecasts.
Department of Transportation
The Department of Transportation has more than 3,900 supervisors and operators statewide that are prepared to respond to this weekend's event. The Department currently has 78 chippers, 53 traffic signal trucks, 15 tree crew bucket trucks and 45 loaders with grapple statewide.
In addition, to support response activities in critical areas, 15 wood chippers, 4 traffic signal trucks,1 auger truck, 1 tree crew bucket truck, 1 medium duty work truck, 27 portable variable message signs and 11 personnel - including, 8 traffic signal technicians and 3 tree crew personnel - will be deployed. and distributed as follows:
- Receiving 1 traffic signal truck and 2 traffic signal technicians from the Mid-Hudson Region.
- Receiving 1 traffic signal Truck and 2 traffic signal technicians from the Capital District
- Receiving 9 portable variable message signs from Central New York
- Receiving 4 chippers from the Capital Region
- Receiving 3 chippers from the Mohawk Valley
- Receiving 4 chippers from the Mid-Hudson Region
- Receiving 4 chippers from the Southern Tier
- Receiving 1 traffic signal truck and 2 traffic signal technicians from the Southern Tier
- Receiving 1 traffic signal truck and 2 traffic signal technicians from the Mohawk Valley and Capital Region
- Receiving 6 portable variable message signs from the Mohawk Valley
- Receiving 6 portable variable message signs from Central New York
- Receiving 6 portable variable message signs from the Southern Tier
- Receiving 1 Auger Truck from the Southern Tier
- Receiving 1 Tree Crew Bucket Truck, 1 Medium Duty Work Truck and 3 Tree Crew Personnel from the Mid-Hudson region
Chippers and Auger Truck are currently in their staging areas and ready to be deployed. Twelve portable variable message signs are currently in their staging areas and ready to be deployed; the remaining 15 are en-route to their staging areas. Traffic Signal Crews and Tree Crew personnel will deploy to affected areas Saturday and will be in place in advance of the wind event.
The Thruway Authority staff are prepared to respond to any wind related issues with 667 operators and supervisors across the state, small to medium sized excavators, plow/dump trucks, large loaders, and a number of portable VMS boards, portable light towers, smaller generators, smaller pumps and equipment hauling trailers, as well as signage and other traffic control devices available for any detours or closures. Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of 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. For real-time updates, motorists can follow@ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.
New York State Police
State Police will be ready to deploy additional Troopers to affected areas as needed, and all Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit and Traffic Incident Management patrols will be actively engaged for the duration of the weather event. All four-wheel drive vehicles are in service and all specialty vehicles, including snowmobiles, Utility Task Vehicles, and boats are staged and ready for use.
Department of Environmental Conservation
Department of Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation. Twenty-one saw crew teams are strategically located in key regions of the state and ready to assist with any tree clearing and response needs. In addition, all available assets, including snowmobiles and utility vehicles, are ready to assist with any emergency response.
To prepare for potential power outages, New Yorkers should:
- Have a list of emergency numbers readily available.
- 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 have an electric garage door opener, locate the manual release level and learn how to operate it.
- Keep your car's gas tank at least half-full; gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps. If you use your car to re-charge devices, do not keep the car running in a garage, partially enclosed space, or close to a home - this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Plan to have an alternative cooking source, such as a camp stove or outdoor grill. Follow appropriate safety rules for its use outside the residence.
- If you are considering a generator for your home, consult an electrician or engineer before purchasing and installing.
- Have extra blankets, coats, hats, and gloves on hand to keep warm.
- If you have a computer, back up files and operating systems regularly. Turn off all computers, monitors, and other devices when they are not being used.
- If you rely on anything that is battery-operated or power dependent such as a medical device, determine a back-up plan. For example, if you have a telephone that requires electricity to work, plan for alternate communication such as a standard telephone handset, cell phone, or radio.
- Learn about emergency plans in your area, including the location of the closest cooling and warming shelters, by visiting your state's or local website.
If experiencing a power outage, New Yorkers should:
- Turn off or disconnect major appliances and other equipment, e.g., computers, in case of a momentary power surge that can damage these devices. Keep one light turned on so you know when power returns. Consider using surge protectors wherever you use electronic equipment.
- Call your utility provider to notify them of the outage and listen to local broadcasts for official information. For a list of utilities in NYS visit the New York State Department of Public ServiceCheck 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 (4) 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.
- In intense heat, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall or cooling shelter. If you remain at home, move to the lowest level - cool air falls. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing and drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.
- If you are in a tall building, take the stairs and move to the lowest level of the building. If trapped in an elevator, wait for assistance. Do not attempt to force the doors open. Remain patient - there is plenty of air and the interior of the elevator is designed for passenger safety.
- Remember to provide fresh, cool water for your pets.
- Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion and dangerous driving conditions. If you must drive during a blackout, remember to obey the 4-way stop rule at intersections with non-functioning traffic signals.
- Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not be working.
- If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location, such as the home of a relative or friend, or a public facility that has heat.
For a complete list of weather terms and preparation ideas before during and after a power outages, visit the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website athttp://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/outage/.