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State agencies to prepare emergency response assets as weather system will impact New York with snow & possible severe thunderstorm


Tue, Apr 20th 2021 05:20 pm

√ Starting late tonight, several upstate locations could see up to 6 or more inches of wet, heavy snow

Travel could be hazardous, especially during Wednesday morning commute in WNY

Snow, rain, mixed precipitation & strong winds could cause dangerous travel conditions, power outages

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday directed state agencies to prepare emergency response assets as a weather system is forecast to impact upstate areas overnight and into Wednesday morning with up to 6 or more inches of heavy, wet snow and possible thunderstorms, creating dangerous travel conditions and power outages. 

A line of showers and embedded thunderstorms are expected to quickly move across the lower Mid-Hudson, New York City and Long Island regions early to mid-afternoon along and west of the Hudson River, and mid-to-late-afternoon east of the Hudson River. Winds could gust up to 45 mph or more near coastal locations. The line of storm activity should move offshore by early Wednesday evening.

A low-pressure system passing south of the Western New York region late Tuesday night is expected to produce widespread snow across most upstate locations on Wednesday and could produce severe thunderstorms in the Capital and Mid-Hudson regions through Wednesday afternoon. Travel could be hazardous at times, especially in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions during the Wednesday morning commute, when the heaviest snow is expected to fall. Heavy, wet snow and gusty winds could also result in power outages and downed tree limbs.

"Another round of potentially severe weather is making its way toward New York state tomorrow, with heavy snow in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions during the morning hours and possible severe thunderstorms in the Capital Region and Mid-Hudson later Wednesday," Cuomo said. "I have directed state agencies to track this weather system closely and ensure we are prepared to support any requests from local governments. I encourage all New Yorkers to drive safely, especially if you are traveling tomorrow morning."

Starting early Wednesday morning, locations in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions are forecast to receive heavy, wet snow, with the heaviest snow expected to fall from pre-dawn hours through late morning. Road conditions will likely be hazardous due to slippery surfaces and possible downed tree limbs.

Snow accumulations up to 3 inches are expected for most locations, especially in higher terrain, and up to 8 inches along the northwestern slopes of the Adirondacks and the highest summits. Colder air is forecast to produce some lake effect snow showers in areas southeast of the Great Lakes from Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

For a complete listing of weather advisories, visit the National Weather Service weather alerts website.

Agency Preparations

√ Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services: The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' emergency operations center remains activated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will closely monitor weather conditions, coordinate state response operations, and remain in contact with localities throughout the duration of the event. State 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 3,500 supervisors and operators available statewide. Staff can be configured into any type of response crew that is needed and all available snow and ice equipment is ready to deploy. Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 1,541 large plow trucks
  • 161 medium-duty plows
  • 46 tow plows
  • 310 large loaders
  • 38 snowblowers

For up-to-date travel information, call 511, visit www.511NY.org or download the free 511NY mobile app.

√ Thruway Authority: The Thruway Authority has 660 operators and supervisors ready to respond with 237 large plows/dump trucks, 124 medium plows/dump trucks, 11 tow plows, and 67 loaders across the State, and with more than 118,000 tons of road salt on hand. Variable message signs and social media are utilized to alert motorists of 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 and navigation assistance while on the go. Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert emails, which provide the latest traffic conditions along the thruway.

√ 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.

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

√ 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, snowmobiles and utility-task-vehicles, are staged and ready for immediate response. All troop emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.

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

√ New York Power Authority / Canal Corp.: The New York Power Authority and the Canal Corp. staff has performed preparations for the forecasted weather to ensure all facilities, assets and equipment are secured and ready. The Power Authority is prepared to support power restoration activities if needed.

Winter Safety Tips

According to the governor’s office, 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.

√ If you must travel, make sure your car is stocked with survival gear such as 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 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.

For more safety tips, visit the DHSES website here.

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