January 11, 2024
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Directs State Agencies to Prepare as Strong Winds and Lake Effect Snow May Cause Blizzard-Like Conditions This Weekend

Governor Hochul Directs State Agencies to Prepare as Strong Winds and Lake Effect Snow May Cause Blizzard-Like Conditions This Weekend

Governor Releases Video Message to New Yorkers with Update on Statewide Storm Preparation, Urges Caution Ahead of Extreme Weather

Weather System with Strong Winds, Freezing Temperatures and Lake Effect Snow Expected to Cause Power Outages and Create Possibility of Potentially Life Threatening Conditions Starting Saturday

System Also Has Potential to Create Flash and Coastal Flooding Threats in the Hudson Valley, New York City and on Long Island

Forecast Details on Snow Totals and Lake Effect Band Placement Still Unclear

Governor Deploys 100 Members of the New York National Guard to Western New York to Support Emergency Response Operations

New Yorkers Urged to Prepare for Potential Power Outages, Hazardous Travel and Other Severe Winter Weather Impacts

New Yorkers Can Subscribe for Emergency Alerts Here

Governor Kathy Hochul today directed state agencies to begin emergency response preparations as lake effect snow and strong winds have the potential to create dangerous blizzard-like conditions off the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario this weekend. The Governor also released a video message to New Yorkers updating them on the latest forecasts and urging caution as the storm moves into New York.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

"New Yorkers must be vigilant: another winter storm is on its way, and has the potential to have a serious impact," Governor Hochul said. "We are deploying personnel, pre-setting equipment and issuing early warnings to ensure our response is speedy and effective."

Following another major storm system which is expected to impact much of the state with snow, rain and strong winds beginning Friday, temperatures are expected to rapidly drop below freezing throughout Saturday, creating ideal conditions for lake effect snow to develop. While forecasters are still working to determine snow totals and the exact placement of the lake effect bands, wind gusts of 35 mph to 70 mph are likely during this time creating a real potential for power outages.

The combination of lake effect snow, strong winds, and freezing temperatures could produce potentially life-threating conditions in the areas along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. New Yorkers should take this system seriously and begin making preparations now in the event the worst-case scenario occurs.

Beginning Friday evening, another multi-hazard storm system will move into the state with snow, wintery mix, rain, strong winds, cold temperature, frigid windchills, and lake effect snow, along with the potential for coastal and lakeshore flooding. In areas along the Great Lakes, precipitation will begin as heavy snow with the potential to fall at a rate of two inches an hour or more. While most of the state will see wind gusts of 30-45 mph, gusts up to 70 mph are possible in Western New York and gusts of 50-65 mph are in areas east of Lake Ontario, which create a real potential for power outages. The National Weather Service has already issued High Wind Warnings for these areas.

Temperatures will begin to drop from west to east throughout the state on Saturday morning creating the potential for frigid wind chills throughout the Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley and North Country Regions. Lake effect snow is then expected to develop Saturday afternoon and continue through the weekend. Significant snowfall is possible in the heaviest bands of lake effect snow, however the exact location of those bands has yet to be identified. Temperatures are expected to be in the teens to low twenties for the duration of the lake effect event, while wind chill temperatures will likely be in the single digits, with some higher elevation locations dropping below zero.

Elsewhere in the state, the system is expected to produce one to two inches of rain total throughout the Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island, with wind gusts up to 50 mph Friday night into Saturday. There is a slight risk of flash flooding in these areas while moderate coastal flooding expected along the south shores of New York City and the south and easternmost shores of Long Island. Additional beach erosion is possible, especially along the Orient Point shoreline.

The National Weather Service has already issued a multitude of watches and warnings for this storm. For a complete listing of weather alerts and forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website at https://alerts.weather.gov. New Yorkers are also encouraged to sign up for emergency alerts by subscribing to NY Alert at https://alert.ny.gov, a free service providing critical emergency information to your cell phone or computer.

Agency Activities
New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The Division is actively monitoring the weather forecast and coordinating the State's response to the weather event. Office of Emergency Management staff are in contact with local counterparts and are prepared to facilitate requests for assistance. The Division is preparing to open the State’s Emergency Operations Center this weekend if the conditions warrant, and the Division is prepared to deploy emergency response assets and shelter supplies from the State's stockpiles.

Division of Military and Naval Affairs
The New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs is deploying 100 soldiers and 25 vehicles from the New York National Guard to Western New York to assist with general response activities. emergency medical appointments and search and rescue operations.

New York State Department of Transportation
The Department of Transportation continues to address flooding and other issues stemming from this week’s storm and is preparing for this upcoming weather event with more than 3,720 supervisors and operators. All field staff are available to fully engage and respond. Staff can be configured into any type of response crews that are needed (flood response, chipper, load & haul, sewer jet, cut & toss, traffic signal, etc.). Crews are checking and clearing drainage structures to make sure they are free of ice and other debris. All residencies in impacted locations will remain staffed for 24/7 operations with operators, supervisors, and mechanics throughout the duration of the event and priority cleanup operations.

Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 1,607 large plow trucks
  • 148 medium duty plows
  • 52 tow plows
  • 37 snow blowers
  • 342 large loaders
  • 82 tracked and wheeled excavators
  • 84 chippers
  • 20 graders
  • 11 vacuum trucks with sewer jets
  • 13 tree crew bucket trucks

For real-time travel information, motorists should call 511 or visit https://www.511ny.org or the mobile site at m.511ny.org, New York State's official traffic and travel information source.

Thruway Authority
Thruway Authority staff is closely monitoring the weather forecast and is ready to respond with 703 operators and supervisors available. Statewide equipment numbers and resources are listed below:

  • 359 large and medium duty plow trucks
  • 10 tow plows
  • 64 loaders
  • More than 118,000 tons of salt on hand

Variable Message Signs and social media are utilized to alert motorists of winter weather conditions on the Thruway.

The Thruway Authority encourages 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 information, live traffic cameras, and navigation assistance while on the go. Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert e-mails and follow @ThruwayTraffic on X for the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway.

New York State Department of Public Service
The utility companies regulated by the Department of Public Service currently have approximately 9,400 workers engaged in repair and restoration efforts as a result of the impacts from Tuesday’s storm event. At the same time, the utilities have begun preparations for this weekend’s latest storm event and will retain many of the contract workers currently in State to assist with any repair and restoration work needed. DPS staff will track utilities' work throughout the event and ensure utility companies shift appropriate staffing to regions that experience the greatest impact. If your service is interrupted, visit the DPS Utility Service Interruptions website for tips.

New York State Police
State Police are monitoring weather conditions and are prepared to deploy additional Troopers as needed. All State Police four-wheel drive and specialized vehicles, including snowmobiles and utility terrain vehicles, are staged and ready for immediate response, and all emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
DEC Emergency Management staff, Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, and regional staff remain on alert and continue to monitor the developing situation and weather forecasts. All available assets are positioned to assist with any emergency response.

With warmer temperatures expected through Saturday, DEC reminds any outdoor enthusiasts to be mindful of conditions when hiking and to use caution when venturing onto ice. Always check ice thickness before traveling across it. A minimum of three to four inches of solid ice is the general rule for safety.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
New York State Park Police and park personnel are on alert and closely monitoring weather conditions and impacts. Response equipment is being fueled, tested and prepared for storm response use. Park visitors should check https://parks.ny.gov or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Officials are monitoring conditions and will strategically pre-position personnel and equipment to be able to respond to weather conditions as necessary. New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad crews will have equipment on hand to be able to respond quickly as conditions warrant – chainsaws for clearing downed trees, pumps in the event of flooded areas, identifying locations and availability of supplies for replacing damaged utility poles and crossing gates. Diesel locomotives will also be pre-positioned to minimize any potential service impacts. For the latest updates on service across the MTA transportation network, check out the MTA website and our various apps – MyMTA and Train Time -- plus, our social media channels.

Port Authority
The Port Authority monitors weather conditions across all its facilities. In the event of severe weather conditions, the agency issues regular travel alerts and updates as needed. For the latest information about Port Authority facilities, please check social media, sign up for PA alerts or download one of the PA mobile apps, including RidePATH, which provides real-time updates and alerts for PATH service.

Safety Tips

Winter Weather

  • Service snow removal equipment. Use rock salt to melt ice on walkways, and sand to generate traction.
  • Winterize your home and have heating sources inspected annually.
  • If you use heating oil, maintain an adequate supply.
  • Have safe, emergency heating equipment available and use according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Install and check smoke alarms.
  • Protect water pipes from freezing.

Traveling in Winter Weather
Some of the most important tips for safe driving include:

  • Do not drive unless necessary.
  • 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. Never attempt to pass a snowplow while its operating.

Power Outages
Planning

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Consider buying a generator and follow the rules for using it outside the residence. Before installing a generator, be sure to properly disconnect from your utility electrical service. If possible, have your generator installed by a qualified electrician.
  • 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 have an electric garage door opener, locate the manual release level, and learn how to operate.
  • If you have a telephone instrument or system that requires electricity to work, plan for alternate communication such as a standard tele-phone handset, cellular telephone, or radio.

What to Do If the Power Goes Out

  • 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. Check with your utility to determine area repair schedules.
  • Check to see if neighbors and those with access or functional needs have power.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Close off rooms you do not need.

To Report an Electric Outage, Call:

  • Central Hudson: 800-527-2714
  • Con Edison: 800-752-6633
  • National Grid: 800-867-5222
  • NYSEG: 800-572-1131
  • O&R: 877-434-4100
  • PSEG-LI: 800-490-0075
  • RG&E: 800-743-1701

Heating Safety

  • Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters.
  • When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, woodstove, etc. always make sure you have proper ventilation. Always follow manufacturer's instructions.
  • Keep curtains, towels, and potholders away from hot surfaces.
  • Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors and make sure they work.
  • If you use kerosene heaters to supplement your regular heating fuel, or as an emergency source of heat, follow these safety tips:
    • Follow the manufacturers' instructions.
    • Use only the correct fuel for your unit.
    • Refuel outdoors only and only when the unit is cool.
    • Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.
    • When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.

For more winter safety tips, visit https://dhses.ny.gov/safety. For all non-emergency service needs in New York State before, during or after a storm, call 211 or visit 211nys.org.

Flooding
Planning

  • Learn the safest route from your home or business to high, safe ground should you have to leave in a hurry.
  • Keep your vehicle fueled or charged. 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 waterproofing.

Travel Safety

  • Flooding and damaging winds can make traveling dangerous.
  • Never attempt to drive on a flooded road – go another way. Remember: “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”
    • Six inches of swiftly moving water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle or knock you off your feet if walking.
      • Do not underestimate the power of fast-moving water. Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float your car and water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
      • If water begins to rise rapidly around you in your car, abandon the vehicle immediately.
      • If water is rising inside the vehicle, seek refuge on the roof. Do not drive around road barriers.

About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) provides leadership, coordination, and support to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate disasters and other emergencies. For more information, follow @NYSDHSES on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly known as Twitter) or visit dhses.ny.gov.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
New York City: (212) 681-4640

Translations

الترجمة إلى العربية
বাংলা অনুবাদ
Traduction en français
Tradiksyon kreyòl ayisyen
Traduzione italiana
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Traducción al español
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אידישע איבערטייטשונג