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Hochul urges caution as severe thunderstorms continue to threaten upstate New York


Thu, Jul 20th 2023 07:40 pm

Portions of Western New York, Finger Lakes & Southern Tier regions at greatest risk of impact Thursday Evening into Friday

Gov. Kathy Hochul urged New Yorkers, especially those in the western half of the state, to prepare for the potential of severe thunderstorms beginning Thursday evening into Friday.

While the majority of the state may see varying levels of rainfall, the most severe weather is expected to impact parts of the Western New York, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions. Areas in the Mid-Hudson, Capital and North Country regions that have been inundated with severe thunderstorms and flash flooding in recent weeks are forecast to have the lowest risk of severe weather, but locally heavy downpours are possible in areas that experienced recent flooding.

A press release stated, “As Gov. Hochul and her administration keep a close eye on this weather system and stand ready to support local partners' response to any impacts, New Yorkers are reminded to monitor their local forecasts, ensure their households are prepared for sever weather, and to never drive through flooded roadways.

Hochul said, "My team is closely tracking the forecast for the rest of this week as Mother Nature continues to bring severe weather our way this summer. We are prepared to respond to this storm and will assist local governments upon request with personnel and equipment should flooding or power outages cause destruction."

Beginning Thursday evening, rain and thunderstorms will begin moving into the state. Parts of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties are forecast to have higher risk of severe thunderstorms than other areas of the state west of Syracuse. This system has the potential to produce severe weather, including damaging winds in excess of 58 mph, hail of up to one inch in diameter, localized flash flooding and isolated tornadoes.

A flood watch was issued for portions of the North Country and Capital Region starting Friday afternoon and continuing through late Friday night, as showers and thunderstorms are expected to produce up to 3 inches of rain or locally higher amounts in some places.

For a complete listing of weather alerts and forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website at https://alerts.weather.gov.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "Another round of severe weather is poised to impact New York, and our teams are ready to support our local partners however we can. While the most severe weather is forecast for the western portion of the state, all New Yorkers should remain vigilant as our ground remains highly saturated and the risk of flash flooding remains."

State Agency Preparations

•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. State fire and state emergency management teams are prepared to respond with personnel and resources, in the event of flash flooding.

•The Department of Transportation is prepared to respond to the weather event with nearly 3,500 operators and supervisors available statewide.

Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 1,383 large dump trucks
  • 318 large loaders
  • 82 chippers
  • 81 wheeled and tracked excavators
  • 32 traffic tower platforms
  • 20 vacuum trucks with sewer jets
  • 15 tree crew bucket trucks

•Thruway Authority staff is currently monitoring the weather forecast and has 653 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:

  • 340 large and small dump trucks
  • 56 loaders
  • 33 trailers
  • 6 vac trucks
  • 13 excavators
  • 8 brush chippers
  • 100 chainsaws
  • 23 aerial trucks
  • 23 skid steers
  • 84 portable generators
  • 69 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 emails, 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 police officers, forest rangers, emergency management staff and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and weather forecasts, 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 can visit parks.ny.gov, check the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app 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, repair and restoration efforts across New York for this event. Agency staff will track utilities' work throughout the event and ensure utilities shift appropriate staffing to regions that experience the greatest impact.

•New York 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.

Severe Weather Safety Tips – Disaster Supplies

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.


√ 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.


√ 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 predesignated 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 information on personal preparedness and how to stay safe during severe weather, visit: https://www.dhses.gov/safety.

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