Heavy Rain, Strong Winds, Freezing Rain and Ice Accumulation Will Make Travel Difficult
Ice Accumulation on Tree Limbs and Power Lines Will Cause Scattered Power Outages
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers across the state to prepare for strong winds, potential flooding, rain, snow, and icy conditions through Monday. Rain, heavy at times, freezing rain, sleet, and high winds, are expected as the system moves west to east across the state over the next 48 hours. Impacts will vary throughout the state, with New York City, Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley seeing primarily heavy rain while regions upstate could see ice accumulation on power lines and limbs, which coupled with strong winds of 30 mph to 40 mph and gusts up to 55 mph in some areas, may result in power outages, line and tree damage, and difficult travel conditions.
"Winter has decided to stay a little longer, as a mixture of snow, ice and rain will make roadways extremely slippery with strong winds potentially causing scattered power outages across the state," Governor Cuomo said. "I have directed State personnel to be prepared with resources and equipment and am advising New Yorkers to take caution on the roads and to prepare their vehicles and homes for this upcoming storm.
The National Weather Service has issued several warnings, watches, and advisories for the weekend as a complex spring storm moves through the state. For a current listing of weather watches, warnings, and advisories from the National Weather Service, click here.
Freezing rain is expected tonight into Sunday in Western New York, the Finger Lakes, and the North Country this afternoon through Sunday afternoon, which will be accompanied by strong winds and will change over to rain Sunday night. Freezing rain and sleet will cause slippery travel and scattered power outages. The North Country is forecast to receive 2 to 6 inches of snow and sleet accumulation, with the greatest amounts across the northern Adirondacks.
A Lakeshore Flood Warning has been issued for Niagara, Orleans and Monroe Counties, and is in effect from noon today to 2 pm Sunday. Strong Northeasterly winds will result in significant wave action, which will lead to the potential for lakeshore flooding and erosion along the southwestern shores of Lake Ontario.
In the Southern Tier, Capital Region and Mohawk Valley regions, freezing rain is expected, with more accumulation in higher elevations. Lighter ice accretion will spread elsewhere and untreated roads will be slippery.
State Agency Preparations
New Yorkers are encouraged to sign up for NY Alert, the state's free, subscription-based emergency alerting system to get immediate alerts on weather, emergency road closures and other important notifications.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has been in contact with local emergency managers across the state and is monitoring flooding issues along Lake Ontario as well as the impacts of heavy rains along rivers and streams. The Division is prepared to respond to requests for assistance with assets from its stockpiles, including over 700 generators, 257 light towers, nearly 1,300 pumps, 15 sandbaggers, more than 1.2 million sandbags, more than 56,300 ready-to-eat meals, over 430,000 bottles and cans of water, over 9,000 cots, approximately 12,000 blankets and 13,000 pillows, over 4,000 flashlights, 960 traffic barriers, 594 traffic barrels, and almost 7,000 feet of aqua dam.
The Thruway Authority has 667 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 105,000 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. In addition, Thruway Authority staff has been removing snow from emergency lanes and medians, as well as clearing drainage along its system to alleviate the potential of roadway flooding.
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 by visitingwww.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.
Snowplows travel at about 35 miles per hour — which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit — in order to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. The safest place for motorists is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.
Department of Transportation
The New York State Department of Transportation is prepared for the mixed winter precipitation combined with strong winds and possible heavy rains. DOT stands ready with snow and ice equipment, tree and debris clearing equipment and dewatering pumps and road closure apparatus. Crews have been out have inspecting flood prone locations and clearing debris from drainage inlets.
The DOT has 1,550 large plow/dump trucks, 201 medium plow/dump trucks, 328 loaders, 15 tree crew bucket trucks 78 chippers, 54 traffic signal trucks and over 3800 operator and supervisors. DOT also has more than 390,000 tons of road salt on hand. DOT continues to monitor weather forecasts and stands ready to shift resources as necessary to any areas of the state anticipating significant weather conditions.
Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511 orvisiting www.511ny.org before traveling. The free service allows users to check road conditions and transit information. Mobile users can download the free 511NY mobile app from the iTunes or Google Play stores. The app 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.
State Department of Public Service
New York's utilities have added 900 line, tree and service workers to their existing base of 4,300 workers for restoration efforts, if needed. Crews are being moved to the areas that are expected to have the greatest storm impact. Department of Public Service staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the storm event
In the event of power outages, the Department of Public Service will extend Call Center Helpline hours starting Sunday, April 15, from 9 a.m. to 5 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.
Plan Ahead When Traveling
Governor Cuomo also offered the following safety tips to prepare for winter travel:
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 condition.
- Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal and maintain at least a half tank of gas throughout the winter season.
- 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.
- Remember that snowdrifts can hide smaller children.
Prepare for Power Outages
Governor Cuomo urges residents to stay away from any lines that are down as they may be live and should be considered extremely dangerous. 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.
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.
Flood Safety Tips
Below are flood preparation safety tips:
- 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, as well as potentially photo and video documentation, 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.
- Check on your insurance coverage. Homeowners' insurance policies generally do not cover flood damages. Only flood insurance can protect your home against flood damages. You can purchase flood insurance whether or not you live in a mapped flood zone.
For a list of 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.