Gov. Cuomo directs State agencies to prepare emergency response resources for severe thunderstorms forecasted

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., where the Toronto Blue Jays are scheduled to play several home games due to restrictions in cross-border travel between the U.S. and Canada on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Derek Gee/The Buffalo News via AP)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo Wednesday directed State agencies to prepare emergency response resources for severe thunderstorms that are forecasted to move across the state this afternoon and into the evening.

The main threats from these storms are predicted to bring damaging wind, large hail and dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning. However, meteorologists are saying conditions could spark the potential for isolated tornadoes. Governor Cuomo is urging New Yorkers to remain alert for potentially hazardous weather and check local forecasts continuously for changing conditions.

“Strong storms containing high winds, hail and lightning are likely across the state this afternoon and evening, and the National Weather Services reports that isolated tornadoes could spawn from these storms,” Governor Cuomo said. “State agencies are watching the weather closely and are ready to help local partners.  New Yorkers should keep a very close eye on the weather today and be ready to take shelter quickly if necessary.”

Agency Preparations

Department of Transportation

The State Department of Transportation is closely monitoring the coming storm and is prepared to respond with the following assets:

  • 1,438 large dump trucks
  • 305 large loaders
  • 78 chippers
  • 78 tracked and wheeled excavators
  • 22 water tankers
  • 17 vacuum trucks with sewer jets
  • 15 tree crew bucket trucks

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority reportedly has 658 operators and supervisors ready 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, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are also used to alert drivers of weather conditions on the Thruway.

Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 245 Large Dump Trucks
  • 126 Small Dump Trucks
  • 65 Loaders
  • 28 Trailers
  • 8 Vac Trucks
  • 7 Tracked Excavators
  • 9 Wheeled Excavators
  • 10 Brush Chippers
  • 99 Chainsaws
  • 23 Aerial Trucks
  • 22 Skid Steers
  • 88 Portable Generators
  • 69 Portable Light Units

New York State Police

The New York State Police has instructed all Troopers to watch and closely monitor conditions for any issues. Additional personnel will reportedly be deployed to affected areas as needed.  All four-wheel drive vehicles and all specialty vehicles, including Utility Terrain Vehicles, are said to be in-service.

Department of Environmental Conservation

DEC Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and actively watching areas and infrastructure likely to be affected by severe weather. All available assets, including swift water rescue teams, are positioned to help with any emergency response.

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

New York State Park Police and park personnel are also on alert and closely watching weather conditions and impacts. Park visitors should check the parks website 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 around 5,500 workers available for damage assessment, response, and restoration efforts across the State.  Department of Public Service staff will reportedly track the utilities’ work throughout the storm and will make sure utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions likely to be impacted the most.

Thunderstorm Safety Tips

Before the Storm

  • Check the weather forecast before leaving for extended periods outdoors.
  • If a storm is approaching, keep a NOAA Weather Radio or AM/FM radio with you.
  • Watch for signs of approaching storms.
  • Postpone outdoor activities if storms are imminent.
  • Check on neighbors who require special assistance: infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

During the Storm

  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
  • Move to a sturdy building or car. Do not take shelter in small sheds, under isolated trees, or in convertible automobiles.
  • If lightning occurs and sturdy shelter is not available, get inside a hard-top automobile and keep the windows up.
  • Get out of boats and away from water.
  • Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances not necessary for obtaining weather information. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. Use phones only in an emergency.
  • Get to higher ground if flash flooding or flooding is possible. DO NOT attempt to drive to safety. Most flash flooding deaths occur in automobiles.

Tornado Safety Tips

Remain calm but take immediate action.

If you are outdoors:

  • Seek shelter in a substantial building immediately.
  • If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in a ditch or low spot with your hands shielding your head.
  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead, leave it immediately.

If you are at home or in a small building:

  • Go to basement or an interior room on the lowest floor. 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 you are in a school, hospital or shopping center:

  • Go to a pre-designated shelter area.
  • Stay away from large open areas and windows.
  • Do not go outside to your car.

If you are in a high-rise building:

  • Go to an interior small room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Do not use the elevators. Use the stairs.

If you are in a mobile home or vehicle:

  • Get out of mobile homes or vehicles, they are easily tossed about by strong winds in the tornado.
  • Take shelter in a substantial structure.
  • If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in a ditch or low spot with your hands shielding your head.

For more weather safety information, visit the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website. New Yorkers can view weather alerts in their area by visiting the National Weather Service website as well.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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