NY sends resources to WNY in advance of expected wind storm

Posted 23 February 2019 at 8:56 pm

Utilities on standby to respond to power disruptions 24 hours a day

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Erie Canal is frozen in this sunset on Friday evening. The canal is mostly drained during the winter.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the deployment of state resources to the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions in advance of a weather system this weekend that will bring extremely strong winds that could result in property damage and power outages.

Winds are expected to gust at or above 45 mph much of Sunday night and Monday over the vast majority of the state, with gusts approaching 75 mph at times in Western New York and western portions of the North Country.

Utilities are prepared to respond 24 hours a day to power disruptions and are mandated to implement their emergency response plans when needed.

The Governor has activated 100 members of the National Guard to respond to debris clearing missions. Additionally, empty tractor trailers and empty tandems will be banned from portions of the New York State Thruway and some interstate highways in the Western New York, Central New York and Finger Lakes Regions beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, February 24.

Earlier today, Governor Cuomo issued a letter to the International Joint Commission calling on the IJC to maximize Lake Ontario outflows to prevent flooding along New York’s shoreline. Lake Ontario levels are significantly higher than average, and high winds over the weekend threaten to create significant wave action and exacerbate the threat even further.

“With dangerously strong winds expected this weekend, I urge all New Yorkers to prepare for any potential power outages and to take the necessary precautions to stay safe,” Governor Cuomo said. “Utilities will be working around-the-clock to respond to any power disruptions, and the State is deploying significant resources and assets including National Guard personnel to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.”

The system will begin moving into the state today and bring some snow and rain with it. By Sunday, all regions will be experiencing rain, and a cold front will enter the state bringing strong winds with it. Currently, Western New York and the counties along Lakes Erie and Ontario are forecasted to experience the strongest of the damaging winds.

Gusts will increase across Western New York beginning Sunday morning, before spreading throughout the Finger Lakes, Central New York and North Country Regions as the day progresses. Wind gusts will rapidly increase up to 75 mph across Chautauqua County, the northern Niagara Frontier, Rochester and in Jefferson County behind the front. Strong winds over Lake Erie and Lake Ontario will also likely drive an increase in water level along the shoreline, as well as create significant blowing snow with reduced visibilities Sunday night and Monday morning.

One to three inches of snow is forecasted in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions, and six to eight inches is expected in the Tug Hill Plateau region due to Lake effect germinated snow. With wind and snow combined, there will be Blizzard Warnings for Oswego, Jefferson and Lewis Counties.

The National Weather Service has already posted High Wind Watches and Warnings for the majority of the state. Additionally, Lakeshore Flood Watches will be in effect Sunday into Monday for the counties east of Lakes Erie and Ontario as the powerful winds will create significant wave action. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.

Motorists are reminded that State Law mandates that if an intersection is “blacked out” and the traffic signal is not operational, the intersection is automatically a “four way” stop. In the event of closed or blocked roadways due to flooding, downed power lines or debris, motorists are advised to exercise caution and obey all traffic signs or barricades in place, regardless of whether a roadway looks clear.

Agency Preparations – Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will activate the State Emergency Operations Center to enhanced monitoring mode on Sunday morning to closely track the weather system and its impacts. The Division is also coordinating with state agencies and local governments to ensure resources from the State’s ten regional stockpiles are available for deployment throughout the storm.

Currently, the stockpiles are prepared to respond to requests for assistance with assets from its stockpiles, including: More than 725 generators, more than 1,250 pumps, more than 2 million sandbags, 19 sandbaggers, and more than 6,700 feet of Aquadam.

Department of Public Service

The Department of Public Service is in contact with utility senior executives to ensure that the utilities are prepared for inclement weather, and it will be closely monitoring utility storm-preparation efforts to ensure that utilities stand ready to minimize outages and expedite outage restorations. Electric and gas utilities, as well as telecommunication service providers, such as Verizon, are prepared to bring on additional personnel to minimize service disruptions, if they occur.

New York’s utilities have nearly 7,000 workers available for restoration efforts, including more than 1,700 external line and tree crews brought on for this event, to be deployed in areas most impacted. The utilities are on alert and are closely watching as the storm develops and will deploy restoration crews where needed. Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities’ efforts during the storm event. Utilities will continue to secure added resources in anticipation of prolonged outages due to sustained winds which may delay restoration efforts.

Utilities are prepared to respond 24 hours a day to power disruptions and are mandated to implement their emergency response plans, when needed, which includes contacting customers on life-support equipment and other critical customers. New Yorkers should prepare for outages that may last several days.

In light of the potential significant inclement weather, the Department has expanded its Call Center Helpline hours beginning Sunday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., to assist consumers in storm response and restoration efforts. The Department’s Call Center Helpline can be reached by calling (800) 342-3377. Department staff will monitor and report on storm impacts and utility restoration activities throughout the event and will be present in the field, as needed.

Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities’ efforts during the restoration period. The utilities are prepared to respond to power disruptions throughout the event.

New York Power Authority

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is preparing its facilities and operations for the forecasted weather. In Niagara, NYPA is staging equipment to prepare for any necessary ice boom repairs and for any needed ice breaking activity. In addition, NYPA has taken the necessary actions for continued safe operations to support grid reliability. NYPA transmission crews are ready to respond to events that may impact the transmission system. NYPA also is in communication with municipal utility partners and investor-owned utilities to coordinate on potential mutual aid response to outages, if needed. NYPA will continue to communicate with utility and emergency management partners and will continue to monitor weather forecasts.

Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation has more than 3,900 supervisors and operators statewide that are prepared to respond to this weekend’s event. The DOT currently has 78 chippers, 53 traffic signal trucks, 15 tree crew bucket trucks and 45 loaders with grapple statewide.
In addition, to support response activities in critical areas, 15 wood chippers, 4 traffic signal trucks,1 auger truck, 1 tree crew bucket truck, 1 medium duty work truck, 27 portable variable message signs and 11 personnel – including, 8 traffic signal technicians and 3 tree crew personnel – will be deployed.

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority staff are prepared to respond to any wind related issues with 667 operators and supervisors across the state, small to medium sized excavators, plow/dump trucks, large loaders, and a number of 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, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of weather conditions on the Thruway.

New York State Police

State Police will be ready to deploy additional Troopers to affected areas as needed, and all Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit and Traffic Incident Management patrols will be actively engaged for the duration of the weather event. All four-wheel drive vehicles are in service and all specialty vehicles, including snowmobiles, Utility Task Vehicles, and boats are staged and ready for use.

Department of Environmental Conservation

Department of Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation. Twenty-one saw crew teams are strategically located in key regions of the state and ready to assist with any tree clearing and response needs. In addition, all available assets, including snowmobiles and utility vehicles, are ready to assist with any emergency response.

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