June 13, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Urges Caution as Severe Weather Moves Through the State

Governor Cuomo Urges Caution as Severe Weather Moves Through the State

Storms Forecasted to Impact the Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York, Southern Tier, North Country and Capital Regions

New Yorkers Should Prepare for Damaging Winds, Frequent Lightning, and Hail Which May Cause Downed Trees and Power Lines

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to prepare for scattered thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon through the evening as storms move from the Great Lakes eastward, bringing strong winds and possibly producing winds gusts from 40 to 60 mph, which could bring down trees and power lines. Current forecasts predict frequent lightning strikes from this storm. New Yorkers should take proper precautions and closely monitor local media outlets for weather updates as the storm passes through their communities, especially if outdoor activities are planned.

"As we have experienced too often, Mother Nature is unpredictable, and here in New York we are working closely with local and state officials to ensure that residents remain informed throughout the duration of these storms," Governor Cuomo said. "I encourage everyone to take necessary safety measures at their homes or at work, be prepared for power outages or wind damage, and monitor your local weather forecasts as state agencies stands ready to assist any communities in need."

The greatest impact will be between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. west of the Mid-Hudson Valley with the highest risk for severe weather in Central New York, the North Country, and the Mohawk Valley. The National Weather Service has predicted winds will shift after midnight tonight creating waves between 9 feet and 10 feet along the shores of Lake Ontario in Jefferson, Oswego and Cayuga Counties, which could contribute to shoreline erosion. Residents in the affected areas should stay tuned to local media outlets for the latest weather forecast. 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.

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services - Office of Emergency Management is actively monitoring the situation and has been in touch with local emergency management, and is in close contact with the National Weather Service. State Stockpiles are prepared and assets are ready to deploy to affected regions, which include 685 generators, 202 light towers, 1,128 pumps of various sizes, over 1,600,000 sandbags, 13 sandbaggers, over 56,350 ready to eat meals, over 372,000 bottles and cans of water, over 8,600 cots, and 10,000 blankets and 12,000 pillows.

New York State Department of Transportation

The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond to any storm impacted areas with 74 excavators, four bulldozers, 18 graders, 16 vacuum trucks with sewer jets, 11 water pumps, 1,381 large dump trucks, 316 large loaders, 14 tree crew bucket trucks, 78 chippers, 52 traffic signal trucks, and 14 water tankers.

In addition, the Department has already deployed Variable Message Signs on state roads in the affected regions, which are ready to alert motorists of severe weather conditions. Motorists are also 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.

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority urges motorists to use caution while driving during the storm. The Thruway Authority has Variable Message Signs available throughout the system if severe weather warnings are issued by the National Weather Service. Staff are closely monitoring conditions and are ready to respond and assist if needed.

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.

New York State 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.

The Department of Public Service has extended Call Center Helpline hours starting Wednesday, June 13, until 7:30 p.m., 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.

Governor Cuomo offered the following safety tips:

Before the Storm Hits:

  • Tie down or bring inside lawn furniture, trash cans, tools and hanging plants that could be projectiles during the storm.
  • If you have a basement, check sump pumps to ensure they are operating and be prepared to use a backup system.
  • Have a standby generator or alternative source of power available.
  • Check on neighbors, especially the elderly and disabled.

As the Storm Approaches:

  • Stay inside, away from windows and glass doors.
  • Charge your cellphones and important electronic devices
  • Stay off roads. If you are traveling, find safe shelter immediately.
  • If you detect or see a tornado, remain calm, but take immediate action.
  • If you are outdoors, seek shelter in a substantial building immediately. If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in a ditch or low spot with your hands shielding your head.
  • If you are in a mobile home or vehicle, get out immediately! Mobile homes or vehicles are easily tossed about by strong winds in the tornado. Take shelter in a substantial structure. If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in a ditch or low spot with your hands shielding our head. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car.
  • If you are at home or in a small building, go to the basement or an interior room on the lowest floor. Stay away from windows. Closets, bathrooms, and other interior rooms offer the best protection. Get under something sturdy or cover yourself with a mattress.
  • If you are in a school, hospital or shopping center, go to a pre-designated shelter area. Stay away from large open areas and windows. Do not go outside to your car.
  • If you are in a high-rise building, go to an interior small room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Do not use the elevators - use stairs.
  • Check on friends, family and neighbors, especially the elderly.
  • 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.

Lightning Safety

If You Are Outdoors

  • Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of lightning, or increasing wind, which may be signs of an approaching thunderstorm.
  • Listen for the sound of thunder. Even when the sky looks blue and clear, be cautious. Lightning can travel sideways for up to 10 miles. If you can hear thunder, go to a safe shelter immediately.
  • When lightning is seen or thunder is heard, or when dark clouds are observed, postpone activities promptly. Don't wait for rain. Lightning often strikes as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. Go quickly inside a completely enclosed building. If no enclosed building is convenient, get inside a hard-topped all-metal vehicle.
  • The principle lightning safety guide is the 30-30 rule. The first 30 represents 30 seconds. If the time between when you see the flash and hear the thunder is 30 seconds or less, the lightning is close enough to hit you. If you haven't already, seek shelter immediately. The second 30 stands for 30 minutes. After the last flash of lightning, wait 30 minutes before leaving your shelter.
  • If you see or hear a thunderstorm coming or your hair stands on end, immediately stop your activity, suspend your game or practice, and instruct everyone to go inside a sturdy building or car.
  • Be the lowest point. Lightning hits the tallest object. In the mountains if you are above tree line, you ARE the highest object around. Quickly get below tree line and get into a grove of small trees. Don't be the second tallest object during a lightning storm! Crouch down if you are in an exposed area.
  • If you can't get to a shelter, stay away from trees. If there is no shelter, crouch in the open, keeping twice as far away from a tree as it is tall.
  • Avoid leaning against vehicles. Get off bicycles and motorcycles.
  • Get out of the water, off the beach and out of small boats or canoes. If caught in a boat, crouch down in the center of the boat away from metal hardware. Avoid standing in puddles of water, even if wearing rubber boots.
  • Avoid metal! Drop metal backpacks and stay away from clothes lines, fences, and exposed sheds. Don't hold on to metal items such golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis rackets or tools. Large metal objects can conduct lightning. Small metal objects can cause burns.
  • Move away from a group of people. Stay several yards away from other people. Don't share a bleacher bench or huddle in a group.

If You Are Indoors

  • Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches as these can provide the path for a direct strike to enter a home.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry.
  • In general, basements are a safe place to go during thunderstorms. However, avoid contact with concrete walls which may contain metal reinforcing bars.
  • Bring your pets indoors before the storm. Dog houses are not lightning-safe. Dogs that are chained to trees or chained to wire runners can easily fall victim to a lightning strike.

Prepare for Power Outages

New Yorkers should always avoid any downed power lines as they may be live and should be considered extremely dangerous.

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.


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