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Hochul urges caution in advance of winter storm expected to bring snow & ice to several upstate regions this week


Wed, Feb 22nd 2023 03:45 pm

Majority of state to experience flat ice accumulation up to a quarter-inch as a result of sleet and freezing rain, potential for localized power outages in Western New York and Finger Lakes regions, as a half-inch of ice accumulation is possible

√ Governor urges New Yorkers to monitor weather conditions, take necessary precautions for Wednesday evening and Thursday commutes

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday urged caution as a winter storm is forecast to impact upstate regions beginning Wednesday afternoon, particularly in the North Country and parts of the Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and Western New York, where snow or sleet is expected to slowly spread from the New York/Pennsylvania border northeast and reach parts of the North Country by Wednesday night.

The governor’s team noted some areas in the North Country could see up to a foot of snow, with up to 18 inches of snow possible near Ogdensburg, and many regions will experience ice accumulation up to a quarter inch, with potential for a half-inch in Western New York and the Finger Lakes, bringing the threat of localized power outages due to downed trees and power lines. Travel conditions in these regions are expected to begin deteriorating Wednesday afternoon and continue through Thursday. The most impactful weather is likely to occur Wednesday night through Thursday morning. Wet and heavy snow falling mixed with sleet and ice will impact commutes and potentially cause localized power outages.

Hochul urged New Yorkers to monitor local weather forecasts, take precautions if commuting Wednesday and Thursday and to be ready for changing weather conditions.

"Most of upstate New York is preparing for another winter storm that could bring a foot or more of snow in the North Country, and a wintry mix of ice and sleet that will impact travel Wednesday through Thursday," Hochul said. "New Yorkers in impacted regions should take action now to prepare for the incoming snow and ice, as power outages and hazardous travel are a concern this week."

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "Winter returns this week with a foot of snow for the North Country and up to a half foot of snow for areas just north of the thruway between Syracuse and Albany. Snowfall and ice accumulation Wednesday into Thursday will lead to dangerous travel conditions and the potential for power outages. New Yorkers in these areas should pay close attention to their local forecast and take all necessary precautions if traveling.”

A number of winter storm watches and weather advisories are currently in effect for the North Country, Mohawk Valley, Central New York, Southern Tier, Western New York, Finger Lakes and Capital regions through Thursday night. Some locations in the watch area could see up to a foot of snow, especially in the Tug Hill area and southern Adirondacks, and between a quarter- to a half-inch of ice accumulation in several locations by Thursday. As the weather system moves west to east across the state, snow is expected to switch over to sleet and freezing rain in some places, with valley locations seeing more snow and freezing rain, and locations in higher elevations receiving just rain.

Wind gusts up to 40 mph are also expected on Thursday, which could cause additional travel and power impacts, especially in areas receiving ice accumulation. In New York City and Long Island, precipitation is expected to begin as (or quickly switch over to) rain with little snow or ice accumulation expected.

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

According to the Department of Public Service, New York's utilities have approximately 6,900 workers available statewide to engage in damage assessment, wire guarding, response, repair and restoration efforts for this week's winter weather event. This includes an additional 1,100 external line and tree FTEs secured by National Grid and an additional 300 external line and tree FTEs secured by NYSEG/RG&E. DPS staff will track utilities' work throughout the event and ensure utilities shift appropriate staffing to regions that experience the greatest impact.

Safety Tips – Travel

Per Hochul’s team, some of the most important tips for safe driving include:

•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 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

•Call your utility to determine area repair schedules.

•Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored; leave one light on to indicate when power has been restored.

•If heat goes out during a winter storm, keep warm by closing 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.

•Always follow manufacturer's instructions.

•When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, woodstove, etc., always make sure you have proper ventilation.

•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 3 feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.
  • When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.

For more winter safety tips, visit 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.

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services provides leadership, coordination and support to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate disasters and other emergencies. For more information, find DHSES on Facebook, on Twitter or visit dhses.ny.gov.

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