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NYS agencies prepare emergency response assets as heavy snow & high winds forecast


Tue, Jan 4th 2022 04:50 pm

Weather will impact WNY & North Country Wednesday into Thursday

√ 9 inches or more of snow forecast to begin late Wednesday night and continue through Thursday evening

√ High winds and snowfall rates will likely cause dangerous travel conditions in multiple locations

√ Meteorologists are monitoring potential storm that could impact state on Friday

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday directed state agencies to prepare emergency response assets as a weather system is poised to impact areas in Western New York and the North Country with lake effect snow and high winds expected to make travel conditions difficult, with potential whiteout conditions at times.

"Forecasts are calling for up to 9 inches of snow in Western New York and the North Country in the coming days," Hochul said. "At my direction, state agencies have already begun preparing their responses and stand ready to support any of our local partners who may need assistance. Now is the time for people to begin preparing, and I encourage everyone to closely monitor their local forecasts, use caution while traveling, and take the steps necessary for keeping their households safe."

Areas off Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, including Erie, Genesee, Wyoming, Jefferson and Lewis counties, may see 9 or more inches of snow accumulation and winds gusting up to 45 mph at times, which may cause blowing snow and low visibility. Hochul urged New Yorkers to pay attention to updated weather forecasts, limit travel if possible in these areas, and follow any local emergency orders that may be issued.

Snow is expected to begin falling in Western New York beginning Wednesday afternoon with total accumulations of more than 9 inches possible in areas adjacent to Lakes Erie and Ontario. On Wednesday evening, snowfall rates greater than one inch per hour are possible in several locations, and potentially strong winds are expected with gusts up to 45 mph in some impacted locations. Higher elevations in Essex County could also see wind gusts of 60 mph or more starting Wednesday evening.

A winter storm watch is in effect for Erie, Genesee, Wyoming, Jefferson, and Lewis counties starting Wednesday evening. Meteorologists are also tracking a potential coastal storm that could bring accumulating snow to a widespread portion of the state Thursday night into Friday.

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

Agency Preparations

•Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services: The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Emergency Operations Center is activated and will closely monitor conditions, coordinate 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 State Department of Transportation is actively engaged in preparing for the weather event. All affected residency locations will be staffed for 24/7 operation throughout the duration of priority response operations. The DOT’s incident command system structure is activated and will remain fully staffed throughout the duration of this event.

The DOT is prepared to respond with the following assets:

1,583 snowplows

322 large loaders

148 medium-duty plows

51 towplows

38 snowblowers

22 pickup trucks with plows

20 graders

•Thruway Authority: The Thruway Authority has 677 operators and supervisors ready to respond with 233 large snowplows, 117 medium snowplows, 11 towplows and 67 loaders across the state with more than 118,000 tons of road 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 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.

•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, 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 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 5,500 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response and restoration efforts across New York state. Agency staff will track utilities' work throughout the event and ensure utilities shift appropriate staffing to regions anticipated to be most impacted.

•New York State Police: State Police are prepared to deploy additional troopers as needed to affected areas. All State Police four-wheel drive and specialized vehicles are staged and ready for immediate response, and all emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.

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

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