Cuomo says New York is ready for 'extremely strong winds', Thruway Authority bans empty big rigs
From the New York Thruway Authority:
TRAVELER ADVISORY: Empty tractor-trailers and empty tandems (three-axled vehicles) are banned on the NYS Thruway in Western and Central New York beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday (Feb. 24) due to high wind warnings and high wind watches.
All empty tractor-trailers and empty tandems will be prohibited from traveling on the NYS Thruway (I-90) between exit 31 (Utica) and exit 61 (Ripley - PA Line), as well as the Niagara Thruway (I-190).
Additionally, 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 real-time traffic and navigation assistance while on the go.
Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert e-mails, which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway by following this link: www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml.
For real-time updates, motorists can follow @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.
For updated forecasts, motorists should check with the National Weather Service.
And from the Governor's Office:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to prepare for a new 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.
Strong winds will continue across much of the state on Monday, with gusts continuing to range between 45 to 55 mph. In advance of this weather system, the Governor has directed multiple state agencies to pre-deploy response equipment throughout the state and ensure that utility companies are prepared to respond as well.
New Yorkers should pay close attention to their local weather reports throughout the weekend, as well as take the steps necessary to ensure their families are protected in the event of a power outage.
Additionally, Governor Cuomo has directed the Department of Transportation and the Thruway Authority to ban empty tractor-trailers and empty tandems from portions of the New York State Thruway and some interstate highways in the Western New York, Central New York and Finger Lakes Regions due to high wind warnings and high wind watches. The ban will take effect beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 24.
"New York is preparing to endure yet another extreme weather event that could bring strong winds resulting in significant power outages," Governor Cuomo said. "I want to make it abundantly clear that utilities are expected to be prepared with response plans to deal with emergencies and quickly restore power to residents following any storm-related outages.
"We expect that utilities will be working aggressively and around-the-clock to fully restore power to all New Yorkers affected by this storm. The state is monitoring the situation closely and is prepared to assist localities quickly as needed."
Empty tractor-trailers and tandems will be banned from the following interstate highways:
- I-390 from Dansville to Route 104
- I-490 from I-90 exit 45 to I-90 exit 47
- I-590 (full extent)
- Route 104 at the Bay Bridge
- I-190 from Grand Island to Lewiston / Queenston
- I-290 from I-190 to I-90
- NY 5 from I-190 to NY 179 (with a full truck ban on the elevated section of the Skyway)
- US 219 from I-90 to Peters Road
- NY 400 from NY 16 to I-90
- I-990 from I-290 to NY 263
- I-90 between exit 31 (Utica) and exit 61 (Ripley to PA line)
- Niagara Thruway (I-190)
The system will begin moving into the state on Saturday 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.
Current forecasts are projecting that maximum wind gusts will reach 45 mph in New York City and on Long Island; 50 mph in the Mid-Hudson, Capital, Mohawk Valley, Central New York and Southern Tier Regions; 70 mph across the North Country; and 75 mph in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions.
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.
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
- 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 more than 6,000 workers available for restoration efforts, plus more than 1,000 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, Feb. 24, 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 Department currently has 79 chippers, 52 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, four traffic signal trucks, and eight traffic signal technicians will be deployed and distributed as follows:
- Receiving one traffic signal truck and two traffic signal technicians from the Mid-Hudson Region.
- Receiving one traffic signal Truck and two traffic signal technicians the Capital District
- Receiving four chippers from the Capital Region
- Receiving three chippers from the Mohawk Valley
- Receiving four chippers from the Mid-Hudson Region
- Receiving four chippers from the Southern Tier
- Receiving one traffic signal truck and two traffic signal technicians from the Southern Tier
- Receiving one traffic signal truck and two traffic signal technicians from the Mohawk Valley and Capital Region
Chippers are currently on route to their destinations, while traffic signal crews will deploy to affected areas tomorrow in advance of the wind event.
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.
The Thruway Authority encourages motorists to download its mobile app which is available to download for free on iPhone and Androiddevices. The app provides motorists direct access to real-time traffic and navigation assistance while on the go. Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert e-mails which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway by following this link: www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml. For real-time updates, motorists can follow @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.
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.
For a complete list of weather terms and preparation ideas before during and after a power outages, visit the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/outage/.
Sounds like they planned as well as anyone could.