Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hurricane Sandy # 4

Good afternoon

Here is the latest information from the National Weather Service Albany office:

It appears this storm will be more of a wind event than a flooding event for us. They expect to issue a high wind watch later this afternoon. We can expect to see sustained 30-40 MPH winds, with gusts to 60 MPH during the storm. Add 10 -15 MPH for higher terrain areas. The most severe winds will be Monday afternoon into Monday evening.

We can probably expect widespread power outages. Please know that both Central Hudson Gas & Electric and New York State Electric and Gas have been making extensive plans including reviewing mutual aid agreements in light of the impending storm. If there are two critical utility related tips, they are 1) treat all downed wires as if they are energized, and 2) if you are using a portable generator, make sure it is outdoors with plenty of ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Rainfall in valley location may not exceed more than a couple of inches. This is due to our area being on the east, or right, side of the storm. A change in the forecasted track of the storm will affect the amount of rainfall we receive - currently the storm is expected to make landfall in southern New Jersey then eventually head north. As with the wind, terrain enhanced precipitation will mean more rain in the upslope mountainous areas of western Ulster.

Flooding is still a possibility, especially if bands of rain train over a particular area. Additionally, more rain is expected in New Jersey which is the headwaters for the Wallkill River. The Wallkill and Rondout converge, so areas past the confluence can expect higher levels. Also, tidal flooding along the Hudson is a real possibility, especially considering the timing of the full moon. Heaviest rainfall is expected Monday afternoon and evening.

Currently the Ashokan is at 77.9% of capacity and the Rondout is at 94.3%. The NYC DEP and NYS DEC have implemented a plan to move water from the Schoharie Reservoir (in hopes of sparing the Schoharie Valley from flooding). Unfortunately that plan involves sending up to 500 million gallons per day (MGD) down the Shandaken tunnel into the Esopus. This has been done over the strenuous objections of Mike Hein, the Ulster County Executive. Releases from the Ashokan down the waste channel continue at 600 MGD.

Snow should not be an issue.

Although models have come into better agreement, there is still uncertainty about the exact track and timing. As you have heard, do not focus on the cone - this is a large storm with wide reaching affects.

We have been working on securing facilities for shelters - should they become necessary. Exact shelter locations will be announced based on areas of greatest need. If you do go to a shelter, please remember to bring your own pillow, blanket, and personal care items.

Following is a wealth of storm related tips from the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services:

As Hurricane Sandy continues to threaten much of New York State with high winds, heavy rains, flooding, coastal surges and power outages, Jerome M. Hauer, Commissioner of New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services urges all New Yorkers to take precautions now to ensure the safety of families and loved ones.

“It is important that all New Yorkers take the time now to check their emergency supply kit, go over their emergency plan with all family members, and stay tuned to local TV and radio reports as weather conditions change,” said Commissioner Hauer. “It is especially important to check on those with special needs, including those who are disabled or elderly, and think now about what to do with pets in the event of an emergency or evacuation.”

Commissioner Hauer offered the following safety tips:

“Your Emergency Supply Kit should contain supplies that will last you and your loved ones for up to 7-10 days, for example, in case of a prolonged power outage,” said Hauer.

Items to be included in your emergency supply kit include:

Flashlights with extra batteries – keep flashlights with extra, fresh batteries and keep them beside your bed and in several other locations. Do not use matches in a power outage.

Portable radio with extra batteries – most telephones may be out of order or limited to emergency use. The radio, including NOAA Weather Radio, will be the best source of emergency information.

Keep a first-aid kit well stocked and in a central location.

Store a 7-10 day supply of food and water for each person. Remember to include food for infants or the elderly, snack foods and items such as a non-electric can opener, cooking utensils, paper/plastic plates and plastic utensils. Store water (one gallon per person per day) in airtight containers.

Consider an alternate cooking source in case of power outage, and store barbecue, charcoal, starter and matches. Do not use these methods of cooking within a confined area.

Consider special items for infants, the elderly, or disabled family members. Have at least a one-week supply of medications and foods for infants and those on special diets.

Important documents should be stored in a waterproof container, including insurance policies, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, checkbook, credit cards, and ATM cards.

As the storm approaches, Commissioner Hauer said, it is important to secure anything that

could become a projectile during the storm. “Tie down or bring inside lawn furniture, trash cans, tools and hanging plants,” said Hauer.

Other tips as the storm approaches:

If you are traveling, find safe shelter immediately.

If you are at home or at work, only stay in a home if you have not been ordered to leave. Stay inside a well-constructed building.

In structures such as a home, examine the building and plan what you will do if winds become strong. Strong winds can produce deadly missiles and structural failure.

Turn your refrigerator to maximum cold and open only when necessary.

Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities.

Turn off propane tanks.

Unplug major appliances.

Fill large containers with water.

If winds become strong:

Stay away from windows and doors even if they are covered. Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway.

Close all interior doors. Secure and brace external doors.

If you are in a two-story house, go to an interior first-floor room, such as a bathroom or closet.

If you are in a multiple-story building and away from the water, go to the first or second floors and take refuge in the halls or other interior rooms away from the windows.

Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.

Remain indoors during the hurricane. Do not be fooled by the "eye" or the lull that occurs as the storm center moves overhead. The other side of the hurricane "eye" has winds that will rapidly increase and will come from the opposite direction.

“If an evacuation is ordered by local government officials, comply with the orders immediately,” said Hauer. “If you are advised to evacuate, do so promptly. If you are advised to go to a certain location, go there and do not attempt to go anywhere else.”

Other tips during an evacuation include:

If you are instructed to evacuate, move to a safe area before access is cut off by floodwaters.

Make certain you have enough fuel for your car.

As you travel, keep listening to the radio for additional instructions.

Watch for washed-out roads, earth slides, broken water or sewer mains, loose or downed electrical wires, and falling or fallen objects.

Watch out for areas where rivers or streams may flood suddenly.

Flood Safety Tips

Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood, so you or your evacuation routes are not cut off.

Monitor local radio / television broadcasts or NOAA Weather Radio.

Avoid driving into water of unknown depth - moving water can quickly sweep your vehicle away.

Restrict children from playing in flooded areas.

Do not use fresh food that has come in contact with floodwaters.

Wash canned goods that are exposed to floodwaters with soap and hot water.

Stay away from downed power lines.

“Go to to sign up for alerts that will let you know immediately when conditions are worsening in your area,” added Commissioner Hauer. “By taking steps now to prepare for the worst, you are ensuring the safety of yourself and your loved ones when the storm hits.”

Please stay informed to this changing situation.