National Grid has increased its upstate New York field force to more than 2,800 line, service, tree, damage assessment and public safety workers in preparation for a major storm forecasted to begin Thursday afternoon and continue into the holiday weekend.
Forecasts for Genesee, Erie, Niagara and Orleans counties include a blizzad warning from 7 a.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Sunday. Estimates call for total snow accumulations of one to three feet, and winds gusting as high as 70 mph Friday and Friday night.
A rapid switch from rain to snow with sharply falling temperatures into the teens and single digits will result in a flash freeze on Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Blizzard conditions will develop Friday afternoon lasting into Saturday night.
The storm is expected to bring a wintry mix of rain, sleet and snow, along with plummeting temperatures, ice buildup and extremely damaging winds, a National Grid press release states.
In addition to ensuring all National Grid field- and office-based employees are available for this storm, the company has secured external resources, including hundreds of contractor crews, some coming from as far away as Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas and Canada. The company also has activated its comprehensive emergency response plan, which includes:
• Securing external resources and pre-staging crews and materials in areas anticipated to be
most severely impacted.
• Initiating patrols to monitor our gas system for any impact from potential flooding.
• Proactively reaching out to elected, municipal and emergency management officials to keep them updated on our preparations and provide safety information.
• Reaching out directly to customers through traditional and social media, email and texts and on our website to provide safety information and to encourage them to be prepared.
• Conducting outbound calls to life support and critical facility customers to ensure they are prepared.
“Heading into the holiday weekend, our line workers, field teams, support staff and contractor crews have made the commitment to be away from their families if they’re needed to restore service to our customers,” said Brian Gemmell, National Grid’s Chief Operating Officer for New York Electric. “We know that there is never a convenient time to endure a storm, especially during the holidays, and our crews are at the ready if the weather impacts our energy delivery system.”
Gemmell said the company will continue to closely monitor weather forecasts and he encourages customers to keep safety a priority with the following reminders:
Electricity & Generator Safety
• If a power outage occurs, customers can notify National Grid online to expedite restoration.
• Generators used to supply power during an outage must be operated outdoors to prevent the buildup of deadly carbon monoxide. Before operating a generator, be sure to disconnect from National Grid’s system by shutting off the main breaker, located in the electric service panel. Failure to do this could endanger our crews and your neighbors.
• Customers who depend on electrically powered life support equipment, such as a
respirator, should register as a life support customer by calling National Grid at 1-800-642-4272. In a medical emergency, always dial 911.
• Keep working flashlights and an extra supply of batteries in your home and be sure to
charge all electronic devices before the storm.
• Please use caution when driving near emergency responders and crews restoring power.
• Be sure to check on elderly family members, neighbors and others who may need assistance during an outage.
Safety Near Downed Power Lines
• Stay away from downed power lines and wires; use caution if one is nearby, and always assume that they are carrying live electricity.
• Never touch a person or an object that is in contact with a downed line, as electricity can pass through to you.
• Take caution when approaching fallen trees, which could have power lines caught in them.
• Remember that water can conduct electricity. If you see a line down in a puddle or flooded
area, avoid contact with the water to prevent risk of shock.
Learn more about downed power line safety at our website.
Stay Informed and Connected
• Customers with active electricity accounts who text ‘REG’ to 64743 can have
personalized alerts sent to them via text, email or phone call when we detect an outage on their properties.
• Customers also can text ‘OUT’ to 64743 to report an outage.
• For real-time power outage information, online outage reporting, and in-depth storm safety information, visit National Grid’s Outage Central website. Customers who create an online profile also can sign up for email alerts.
• Customers can read the latest company news, check outage status and report an outage by using the National Grid app.
• Visit our website, follow us on Twitter and friend us on Facebook.
• Click here for details on the company’s storm preparation and restoration process.