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State agencies prepare emergency response assets as thunderstorms, high winds, & lake effect snow is forecast for New York

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Mon, Nov 30th 2020 11:00 am

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed state agencies to prepare emergency response assets as a weather system is expected to bring thunderstorms, high winds and Lake Effect snow to various parts of the state beginning Monday morning. Specifically, while forecasts are calling for rain and thunderstorms throughout much of the state, the eastern portions of the Capital and Mid-Hudson regions, as well as Long Island have the highest probability of seeing 50 mph-plus wind gusts. Additionally, the southern portion of Western New York can expect to see between 6 and 12 inches of lake-effect snow over the next two days. The governor’s office said, “As the system moves into the state, New Yorkers should monitor local weather forecasts and prepare for possible damaging winds, power outages and minor flooding conditions.”

"With forecasts calling for potentially severe weather in a number of areas throughout the state, I have directed state agencies to not only ensure staff and response assets are ready to support our local partners, but to also remain in contact with utility companies to ensure any power outages are addressed as quickly as possible," Cuomo said. "While the state stands ready to address any issues this storm may cause, I am also urging all New Yorkers to closely follow their local forecasts and take the steps necessary for protecting themselves, their families and their property."

Starting Monday, thunderstorms are possible in the Long Island, Mid-Hudson, New York City and Capital regions. New rainfall amounts between a half inch and three-quarters of an inch are possible in the Capital, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier regions; between three-quarters and 1 inch in the Western New York region; and between 1 and 2 inches in the Mid-Hudson, Long Island and New York City regions. Higher rainfall amounts are possible in areas with thunderstorms. Winds will generally be out of the south east at 15 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph in the North Country, Finger Lakes Regions and Mohawk Valley Region; 45 mph in the New York City; and as high was 50 mph in the eastern Capital and Mid-Hudson regions, as well as across Long Island.

Lake-effect snow is also expected to begin Monday in the southern portions of Western New York and the Tug Hill Plateau area of the North Country. Throughout the next 36 to 48 hours, the southern portion of Western New York could see anywhere between 6 to 12 inches of snow, while the Tug Hill Plateau is expected to experience between 3 to 7 inches in total.

The National Weather Service has already issued a number of advisories and watches ahead of this system. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.

Agency Preparations

•Department of Transportation: The State Department of Transportation will patrol state highways and respond to disruptions during the day Monday and extending into the evening as needed. The Department has the following assets ready for the upcoming event:

1,591 dump trucks

312 large loaders

79 chippers

61 tractor trailers

20 graders

15 tree crew bucket trucks

•Thruway Authority: The Thruway Authority has 660 operators and supervisors ready to deploy 255 large snowplows, 98 medium snowplows, 11 tow plows and 60 loaders across the state with more than 124,000 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. 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 emails, which provide the latest traffic conditions along the thruway here.

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

•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 are positioned to assist with any emergency response.

•Department of Public Service: New York's utilities have approximately 5,500 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response and restoration efforts across New York. Department of Public Service staff will track the utilities' work throughout the storm event and will ensure the utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to experience the greatest impact.

•State Police: The New York State Police has instructed all troopers to remain vigilant and closely monitor conditions for any problems. Additional personnel will be deployed to affected areas as needed. All four-wheel drive vehicles and all specialty vehicles are in-service.

Safety Tips

To prepare for potential power outages, the governor’s office said 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 nonperishable foods handy. If one uses medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem – check with a physician or pharmacist.

√ Make sure to have alternative charging methods for phones or any device that requires power. Charge cell phones and any battery-powered devices.

√ If one has space in the 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 one has 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 recharge 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 one is considering a generator for their 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 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.

√ In intense heat, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall or cooling shelter. If you remain at home, move to the lowest level – cool air falls. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing and drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.

√ 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 four-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 what to do before, during and after a power outage, visit the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website.

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