May 16, 2022
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Urges New Yorkers to Use Caution During Evening Commute as Severe Storms Continue Impacting New York

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Governor Hochul Urges New Yorkers to Use Caution During Evening Commute as Severe Storms Continue Impacting New York
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More Than 40 Counties Across State Under Severe Thunderstorm Watch; State Agencies and Assets Fully Prepared to Respond

Severe Weather Causing 60+ MPH Wind Gusts, Heavy Rain, Dangerous Lightning, Large Hail and Tornadic Activity; High Winds Could Cause Power Outages, Downed Tree Limbs, and Power Lines

New Yorkers Encouraged to Closely Monitor Weather Through Monday Evening and Check on Neighbors

 

Governor Kathy Hochul today urged New Yorkers to use caution during the evening commute as severe storms are continuing to impact the majority of the state. More than 40 counties are currently under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, and areas throughout upstate New York have already begun to experience 60+ MPH wind gusts, heavy rain, lightning, and tornadic activity. Large hail is also a possibility for communities in the path of the storm. High winds are the primary concern of these storms as they have the potential to cause widespread power outages, downed tree limbs, and downed power lines. Given these conditions, Governor Hochul is urging New Yorkers, especially those in the eastern portion of the state, to use extreme caution throughout the evening commute, as well as to check on neighbors and loved ones throughout the duration of the storm.

"The severe weather event moving through the state now is expected to impact several areas through this afternoon and evening with high winds, heavy rain, and other, potentially dangerous impacts, including tornadoes," Governor Hochul said. "I strongly urge anyone in the path of these storms to keep a close eye on your local weather forecast for impacts throughout the afternoon and evening, and be prepared to act."

Multiple severe weather watches and warnings are in effect for several areas across the state.  For a complete listing of weather alerts and forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website at https://alerts.weather.gov. New Yorkers are encouraged to sign up for emergency alerts by subscribing to NY Alert at alert.ny.gov, a free service providing critical emergency information to your cell phone or computer.

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "Much of New York has already endured severe weather this afternoon, but Mother Nature isn't through with us yet. As we move into the evening hours, these intense storms will continue in the eastern part of the state, making it critical New Yorkers use extreme caution throughout their evening commutes. Our emergency response teams are tracking every development and remain in close coordination with our local partners to ensure they have all the resources they need to keep their communities safe."

Agency Preparations

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Emergency Operations Center is monitoring weather and travel conditions, and coordinating any response needs with local governments. The State's stockpiles are prepared to deploy assets to localities to support any storm-related needs, including pumps, chainsaws, sandbags, generators, cots, blankets, and bottled water.

Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation is prepared to respond with more than 3,380 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.). In preparation, crews have checked and cleaned drainage structures to make sure they are free of debris and clogs. Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 1,471 large dump trucks
  • 309 large loaders
  • 77 tracked and wheeled excavators
  • 75 chippers
  • 18 graders
  • 14 vacuum trucks with sewer jets
  • 14 tree crew bucket trucks

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 633 operators and supervisors prepared to respond to any wind or flood related issues across the state with small to medium sized excavators, plow/dump trucks, large loaders, 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 and social media are utilized to alert motorists of weather conditions on the Thruway.

Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 358 Large and Small Dump Trucks
  • 65 Loaders
  • 31 Trailers
  • 7 Vac Trucks
  • 15 Excavators
  • 9 Brush Chippers
  • 99 Chainsaws
  • 13 Aerial Trucks
  • 22 Skid Steers
  • 84 Portable Generators
  • 67 Portable Light Units

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 live traffic cameras, real-time traffic information 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, follow @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter, and visit thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.

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. All available assets, including swift water rescue teams, are positioned to assist with any emergency response.

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. Park visitors should check parks.ny.gov or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings, and closings.

Department of Public Service

New York's utilities have approximately 6,500 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response, repair, and restoration efforts across New York State. Agency staff will track utilities' work throughout the event and ensure utilities shift appropriate staffing to regions that experience the greatest impact.

Additionally:

  • National Grid has secured approximately 450 external line resources for this event
  • Central Hudson has secured 50 external mutual aid line resources for this event
  • NYSEG has secured 500 external contract line and Canadian mutual aid line resources for this event

New York State Police

State Police are prepared to deploy additional Troopers, as needed, to affected areas. All State Police specialized vehicles, including four-wheel drive vehicles and Utility Task Vehicles, are staged and ready for immediate response. All Troop emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Metropolitan Transportation Authority is closely monitoring weather conditions to ensure safe, reliable service. MTA employees will be poised to respond to any weather-related issues and remove any downed trees that may fall across tracks. 

MTA Bridges and Tunnels will implement a ban on empty tractor-trailers and tandem trucks on Monday from 2:00 p.m. through 10 p.m. The pedestrian walkways at the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway bridges will also be closed during this time. The pedestrian walkways at the Robert F. Kennedy and Henry Hudson bridges will remain open, weather permitting. 

Customers are encouraged to check new.mta.info for the latest service updates, and to use caution while navigating the system. Customers should also sign up for real-time service alerts via text or email. These alerts are also available via the MTA's apps: MYmta, Long Island Rail Road Train Time and Metro-North Train Time.

Port Authority

The Port Authority is monitoring weather conditions. Speed restrictions may be in effect at the bridges, as well as along roadways to and from the crossings. Passengers through the Port Authority's facilities are encouraged to reach out to carriers and airlines directly for the latest information on delays and cancelations. 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.

Severe Weather Safety Tips

Preparedness

  • Know the county in which you live and the names of nearby cities. Severe weather warnings are issued on a county basis.
  • 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 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 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.
  • Have disaster supplies on hand, including:
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
    • First aid kit and manual
    • Emergency food and water
    • Non-electric can opener
    • Essential medicines
    • Checkbook, cash, credit cards, ATM cards

Flash Flooding

  • Never attempt to drive on a flooded road. Turn around and go another way.
  • If water begins to rise rapidly around you in your car, abandon the vehicle immediately.
  • 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.

Lightning

  • Follow the 30-30 rule: If the time between when you see a flash of lightning and hear thunder is 30 seconds or less, the lightning is close enough to hit you. Seek shelter immediately. After the last flash of lightning, wait 30 minutes before leaving your shelter.
  • Lightning hits the tallest object. If you are above a tree line, quickly get below it and 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.

Tornado

  • If outdoors and a Tornado Warning is issued, seek shelter immediately. If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in a ditch or low spot with your hands shielding your head.
  • If at home or in a small building, go to the basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of the building. 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 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 in a high-rise building, go to an interior small room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Do not use elevators - use stairs instead.

For more safety tips, visit the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Safety Tips web page at www.dhses.ny.gov/safety.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

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

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