Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued an update on the coastal storm that has brought rain, mountain snow and gusty winds to New York. The current forecast shows that rain will persist throughout the day, however the heaviest portions have already moved through New York City and Long Island. High winds will continue to move through the downstate region throughout the day, and a high wind warning has been issued for Suffolk County until 5 p.m. for 25 mph winds with potential gusts to 60 mph. Additionally, a flood warning has been posted in the Mid-Hudson Valley Region until early evening during the high tide, while flooding also remains a possibility along the Long Island coast during high tide cycles. Finally, winter weather advisories remain in effect for the higher elevations of the Catskills and Adirondacks.
"New York is no stranger to unpredictable weather, and it's critical for all New Yorkers to remain prepared for high winds, rain or snow during this coastal storm," Governor Cuomo said. "As we are preparing for whatever Mother Nature throws our way, I'm asking for everyone to listen to weather forecasts, stay informed and stay safe."
At the Governor's direction, the Regional Emergency Operations Centers in Westchester County and Long Island remain activated and will be staffed by various members of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Department of Transportation, Thruway Authority, Department of Public Service, Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of Parks, State Police, MTA/Metro North, Long Island Rail Road, Office of General Services, Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Department of Health and the New York Division of Military and Naval Affairs. Additionally, the state's regional emergency stockpiles in the Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island regions will be fully staffed throughout the storm. Regional staff from DHSES, OEM and OFPC will continue to patrol the coastal areas typically susceptible to high tide inundation. Forty-eight Department of Transportation personnel have been deployed to Long Island and the Mid-Hudson Valley from different regions across New York State, and include two chipper crews comprised of 14 people, two tree crews comprised of six people, and two traffic signal crews comprised of four people.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has been in contact with Emergency Managers throughout the state and the State's Watch Center is monitoring for any potential issues. Additionally, the State's Emergency Operations Center remains activated and is staffed with OEM personnel to monitor the storm's impacts statewide.
The State's 10 regional stockpiles are fully prepared and assets are ready to deploy including:
- Approximately 700 generators
- Over 240 light towers
- Nearly 1,300 pumps
- Over 2 million sandbags
- 19 sandbaggers
- Over 400,000 bottles and cans of water
- Over 27,500 ready to eat meals
- 9,610 cots
- 12,340 blankets and 13,613 pillows
- 6,771 feet of Aquadam
Department of Transportation
The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond to any storm impacts with 1,489 large dump trucks, 17 graders, 321 loaders, 168 medium duty plow trucks, 12 pickup trucks with plows, 38 snow blowers, 46 tow plows and 32 tractor trailers, and will work 24/7 to ensure safety for the traveling public. Additionally, the Department has 78 chippers, 15 tree trucks and 51 traffic signal trucks available to address any tree and traffic signal issues that may be caused by high-speed winds.
As some areas, including the lower Mid-Hudson Valley and Long Island, are expecting a large amount of rain, crews have cleared debris from drainage inlets and culverts while also readying plow trucks for snow and ice control.
Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511 or by accessing http://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.
Additionally, the Department has 11 Traffic Management Centers located across the state to monitor weather and road conditions, towing operations and additional snow and ice control contracts ready for deployment as necessary. A large number of staff - including 3,500 operators and supervisors - is available to deploy across the state as needed.
In addition, the Department has Variable Message Signs that will alert motorists when hazardous driving conditions are expected or weather warnings are issued by the National Weather Service for any geographic area of the state.
The Thruway Authority urges motorists to use caution while driving during inclement weather. Maintenance crews are monitoring the forecast and stand at the ready to respond as necessary. Crews are actively inspecting drainage systems and equipment and are monitoring problem areas for potential flooding. Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of severe weather watches and warnings.
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, here. For real-time updates, motorists can follow @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or visit www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.
Department of Public Service
New York's utilities have an existing base of 4,300 workers available for restoration efforts, as needed. 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.
Governor Cuomo also offered the following safety tips to prepare for potential winter travel conditions:
Plan Ahead When Traveling
The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents, so make sure your vehicle is prepared now to help ensure your vehicle is in good working order when you need it most.
- Give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination. Make sure your car is stocked with emergency items 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.
- Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. You may also want to carry a set of tire chains in your vehicle for heavy snow conditions.
- Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal.
- Finally, plan long trips carefully. Listen to the local media report or call law enforcement agencies for the latest road conditions.
As you drive:
- Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.
- Keep your vehicle clear of ice and snow - good vision is key to good driving.
- Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars.
Prepare for Power Outages
New Yorkers should also check on friends, family and neighbors, especially the elderly. Power outages can affect the ability of individuals to heat their homes.
The Governor is offering these additional safety tips:
- 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.
After a Power Outage
- Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40°F (4°C) for two or more hours, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. "When in doubt, throw it out!"
- If food in the freezer is colder than 40°F and has ice crystals on it, it can be re-frozen.
- If you are concerned about medications having spoiled, contact your doctor.
- Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned foods and other supplies.
For a complete list of weather terms and preparation ideas before, during and after a flood, visit the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website at www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/flood/floodprepare.cfm.
The National Weather Service may issue additional weather watches and warnings throughout New York State. For a complete listing of weather watches and warnings, visit the National Weather Service website.
To receive weather-based alerts and notifications in your area, subscribe to NY-Alert, New York State's free, subscription-based emergency notification system, here.