Snow, Rain and High Winds Forecast for Most of the State Beginning Early Wednesday
Wind Gusts of Up to 60 MPH Possible in Western New York, Up to 40 MPH in New York City and North Country
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to prepare for a storm system that will bring snow, rain and high winds across much of the state beginning early Wednesday and lasting through the Thanksgiving holiday. The National Weather Service has already issued several watches for high winds in Western New York and the Finger Lakes region, as well as lakeshore flooding watches along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
"Temperatures are expected to drop and winds will be severe across much of the state in the coming days, causing potentially difficult driving conditions on major roads and thoroughfares," Governor Cuomo said. "We have state personnel and resources ready to help as needed and I am urging all New Yorkers who plan on traveling over the next few days to use extra caution to ensure a safe and happy Thanksgiving."
Rain showers are forecast to move into the state Wednesday morning ahead of a cold front that will bring windy conditions across much of the state, with gusts as high as 60 mph in Western New York, 50 mph in the Finger Lakes region and 40 mph in New York City and the North Country. Behind the cold front, scattered snow showers are possible into Thursday. For the weekend, there will be another chance for rain and snow as another front moves toward the state from the west. Temperatures will be above average across the state over the next several days before transitioning to slightly below average to finish the week.
For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.
Department of Transportation
The state Department of Transportation is ready to assist with 3,517 operators and supervisors available statewide, including 526 in Western NY. Regional managers in Western NY, the Finger Lakes, and Southern Tier regions have been briefed on the potential for wind damage. Field crews in potentially affected areas are preparing wind response equipment and will be prepared to respond throughout the event.
All wind response equipment is prepared to deploy, including:
- 1592 Large Dump Trucks (210 Western NY)
- 48 Loaders with Grapple (6 Western NY)
- 33 Tractor Trailers w/ Lowboy (5 Western NY)
- 15 Tree Crew Bucket Trucks (1 Western NY)
- 39 Traffic Signal Trucks (7 Western NY)
- 74 Chippers (7 Western NY)
The Thruway Authority has 684 supervisors and operators across the state ready to respond to any weather-related event with 217 Large Snow Plows, 105 Medium Snow Plows, 10 Tow Plows and 62 Loaders with more than 122,000 tons of road salt on hand. In addition, the Thruway is prepared to deploy small to medium sized excavators, 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 winter weather conditions on the Thruway.
The Thruway Authority is also encouraging motorists to download its mobile app which is available 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.
Department of Environmental Conservation
DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and actively patrolling areas and infrastructure likely to be impacted by severe weather, including high winds. All available assets, including swift water rescue and saw crew teams are strategically located to assist with tree clearing and response needs. In addition, all available assets, including utility vehicles, are positioned to assist with any emergency response.
Department of Public Service
New York's utilities have approximately 4,500 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response and restoration across New York State. Department of Public Service staff will track the utilities' work throughout the storm event.
New York State Police
The New York State Police have readied assets including all 4x4s, high-axle vehicles and boats for deployment as needed. Troopers have been instructed to remain on high alert and to closely monitor flood prone areas for rising waters while on patrol.
Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation regional crews are monitoring the storm and ready to assist as needed. Emergency response equipment will be fueled and prepared for operation and staff will monitor conditions throughout the day.
Some of the most important tips for safe driving include:
- When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
- Use caution on bridges as ice can form quicker than on roads.
- Wet leaves on roadways can cause slippery conditions, making it is important to drive at slower speeds when approaching patches of them.
- 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.
- If you have a cell phone or other communications device such as a 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.
The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, make sure that your vehicle is clear of ice and snow; good vision is key to good driving. Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars. Be extra alert and remember that snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.
It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 mph, 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.
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 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 (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.
- 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 at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/outage/.