10:05am

Tue October 30, 2012
Weather

Sandy blows out the lights on upstate New York

Below is WRVO News' coverage of reaction and response to Superstorm Sandy's impact on our region.

Updated, 6:02 p.m.:

After much preparation, high wind warning, and school closures, Syracuse escaped the brunt of Hurricane Sandy Monday evening, WRVO's Durrie Lawrence reports this evening.

“We just spent the whole time waiting,” said Syracuse University student Sean Keefe. “Waiting for the storm to actually become a storm and not just a little bit of rain outside.”

Syracuse Department of Public Works Commissioner Pete O'Connor says there were hardly had any problems at all.

“We didn't have any tree limbs fall down, we didn't have any flood areas at all, and the high winds we were expecting did not materialize,” he said. He said that wind gusts topped 40 miles per hour, when winds of up to 70 m.p.h. were predicted.

Some businesses saw increased sales Monday; liquor stores and pizza delivery services among them.

Raj Patel, the owner of Westcott Liquors, said his store became busy around the time that classes were canceled for nearby universities. He said his sales were up 20 percent.

Closings for Syracuse University and Le Moyne College lasted through Tuesday, despite low winds and little rain. With the SU library closed as well, students packed a coffee shop in Syracuse's Westcott neighborhood.

Sean Keefe, the SU student, said he's using the extra day to catch up on schoolwork.

“I guess it was probably still the right decision to be safe, but in hindsight we probably could have gone to class,” he said.

Classes were in session Tuesday for Onondaga Community College and the Syracuse City School District.

Updated, 3:00 p.m.:

Much of upstate New York may have escaped the massive damage from Sandy that was seen downstate and in other parts of the East Coast, but officials here say they were more prepared for this storm.

WRVO's Ellen Abbott reports emergency and state officials kept bringing up what they learned from the last hurricane that hit upstate New York as Sandy churned towards the region.

"I think there was a great attention to detail for the last hurricane, but I think you're seeing in this one, the preparation even intensified," Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy said during a briefing Monday in Syracuse.

Duffy was talking about Hurricane Irene, which ravaged parts of upstate New York a little over a year ago. 

The state found out how the track of a hurricane can change quickly and cause problems where they weren't expected, he said.

With Sandy, the New York City took the brunt of the storm this time.

Updated, 2:55 p.m.:

WRVO's Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent a "frightening" night monitoring Hurricane Sandy as it barreled into New York City.

“It was really frightening,” Cuomo said.

As the lengthy flood recovery begins, the governor says the most devastating news of Sandy’s effects is the death of 15 New Yorkers in the storm.

“My guess is, if anything, that number is going to get larger,” Cuomo said.  

Cuomo and Metropolitan Transit Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota say many subway stations remain underwater, including South Street Station, where water is up to the ceiling.  Power is down on commuter lines as far north as Croton–Harmon in Westchester, and as far east as New Haven, Connecticut.  And there’s been flooding on the Long Island Rail Road.

The rest of Karen's report can be read here.

Meanwhile this afternoon, National Grid says most of its customers in upstate New York will have power restored by the end of the day.

The utility said that as of 1 p.m., it had returned electricity to more than 20,000 locations from Buffalo to Albany. About 17,000 customers were still without power.

Updated, 12:40 p.m.:

Lenny Hadcock of Fair Haven, along Little Sodus Bay in Cayuga County, says he'll be cleaning up this tree in his front yard for a few days:

Lenny Hadcock of Fair Haven says it will take him a couple of days to clean up the tree that fell in his yard at his home along Little Sodus Bay.
Credit Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Otherwise along Little Sodus bay, residents reported high winds last night, but not too much damage. People said power outages were minimal and brief. Crews from RG&E were out working there.

Updated, 12:28 p.m.:

The Binghamton area was largely spared the impact of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath. The Innovation Trail’s Matt Richmond reports on what turned out to be a near miss:

On Tuesday morning, the storm’s center was near State College, Pennsylvania, heading northwest. Mike Evans is from the National Weather Service’s Binghamton office. He says it looks like Sandy will mostly pass by the Southern Tier.

“So we’re still feeling some fringe effects today, still seeing some gusty winds around and some showers but it looks like the worst part of the storm is starting to move away, starting to weaken.”

NYSEG is reporting about 10,000 people without power in 14 Southern Tier and Central New York counties. For the entire Northeastern United States, about 6.2 million people awoke Tuesday without power.

Evans says the Southern Tier may have been the luckiest area in the Northeast.

“So really right here in Central New York and the immediate Binghamton area we were really in an area that was kind of like the garden spot for this storm.”

Evans says the most damaging part of the storm stopped around the New York/Pennsylvania border, and weakened as it made its way inland.

Updated, 12:07 p.m.:

National Grid is reporting 19,700 customers still without power in the wake of Sandy.

Regarding outages in Monroe County, as previously reported by Kate O'Connell, it looks like progress is being made. According to NYSEG's outage map, there are just over 17,000 customers without power in the county.

Updated, 10:00 a.m.:

The roof on a water pumping station along Oswego's shoreline was partially blown off last night.

Workers from the Onondaga County Metropolitan Water Board (MWB) were out cleaning up debris this morning.

Part of the roof on a water pumping station along Lake Ontario in Oswego blew off last night.
Credit Ryan Delaney / WRVO

While the station sits just off of Oswego State University's campus in Oswego County, the station pumps water to Onondaga County.

The concrete base of the roof was not damaged and no water got into the building, said MWB Executive Director Holly Rosenthal. The pump station is still operating, she said.

An update on power outages:

About 113,000 people remain without power through the Southern Tier and Catskills, according to NYSEG. About 20,700 National Grid customers are still without power.

More than 19,200 customers are without power in Monroe County today in the aftermath of tropical storm Sandy, The Innovation Trail's Kate O'Connell is reporting.

Rochester Gas & Electric officials say they don’t know the extent of the damage yet and can’t say when power will return.

Areas closest to the lake have been hit hardest by the power outages, RG&E says.

Spokesman Dan Hucko says there are 12 electricity poles and several power lines down around Monroe County as of 8 a.m.

With daybreak, crews are heading out to assess the damage and try to get the systems back up and running, but more people could still lose power.

“You’ll see during the path of a restoration sometimes where the outage numbers actually go up a little bit, and that’s because we’re doing this controlled switching of circuits to make it safe for our workers to get in there,” Hucko said.

Hucko says teams will work more than 17 hours today to get the power back up and running, but they can’t say how long people will have to wait.

Updated, 9:32 a.m.:

Those flying out of Syracuse's Hancock International Airport should check on the status of their flight before traveling to the airport today. The airport itself escaped the storm unscathed.

Commissioner of Aviation, Christina Callahan, reminds travelers to "check with their airline before they leave home."

While most major airports are operational, flights to New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. have been canceled through the end of the day, says Callahan.

Though conditions are good in Syracuse, other airports across the Northeast are seeing serious delays.

Here's more on travel in the Northeast from the AP:

Hurricane Sandy grounded well over 10,000 flights across the Northeast and the globe, and it could be days before some passengers can get where they're going.

According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, more than 13,500 flights had been canceled for Monday and Tuesday, almost all related to the storm. By early Tuesday morning, more than 500 flights scheduled for Wednesday also were canceled.

Major carriers such as American Airlines, United and Delta canceled all flights into and out of three area airports in New York, the nation's busiest airspace. About one-quarter of all U.S. flights travel to or from New York airports each day. So cancelations here can dramatically impact travel in other cities.

Delays rippled across the U.S., affecting travelers in cities from San Francisco to Atlanta. Others attempting to fly out of Europe and Asia also were stuck.

Narita, the international airport near Tokyo, canceled 11 flights Tuesday — nine to the New York area and two to Washington, D.C. All Nippon Airways set up a special counter at Narita to deal with passengers whose flights had been canceled.

Updated, 8:18 a.m.:

The greater Syracuse area "fared very, very well" through Sandy's high winds, says Onondaga County's Emergency Management Commissioner Kevin Wisely.

He says calls were up to the 911 center over night, but calls were mostly for downed trees and power lines and not any injuries.

"We had some moderate, very light damage - a few tree issues," he says. "But really, it was a very quiet night."

Only 172 of National Grid's 192,000 customers in Onondaga County are without power this hour.

Outages remain much higher south and west of Syracuse. NYSEG's outage map shows about 113,000 customers without power in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions.

Here's more from the AP on the situation in the Finger Lakes:

More than 400,000 homes and businesses across upstate New York are without power as superstorm Sandy continues to pummel the region with high winds and rain.

Monroe County officials issued an evacuation Monday night order for about 2,200 homes on Lake Ontario in the Rochester area after wind-driven waves slammed the shoreline in the city and the neighboring town of Greece.

More than 20,000 customers are without power in the Rochester area Tuesday morning.

Nearly 520,000 customers in New York City and another 900,000 on Long Island are without power. Most of the outages outside the city are in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan and Orange counties, where more than 380,000 customers are without electricity.

Most schools have canceled classes Tuesday after many either called off classes Monday or sent students home early.

Updated, 8:08 a.m.:

One part of this storm emergency personnel aren’t worried about is widespread flooding from the region’s largest bodies of water, David Sommerstein reports.

Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain are all at low levels.

The drought this summer may have caused a lot of damage.  But it may contribute an assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

On Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, boaters complain every year about low water levels this time of year. But right now that may come in handy.

John Kangas is the U.S. secretary for the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control, which manages water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. He says Lake Ontario is currently below historic averages for this time of year.

“We can take a pretty big kick from Mother Nature, precipitation-wise,” Kangas said. “The Lake can absorb a lot of precipitation directly on the surface and also run-off from the rivers.”

The U.S. Coast Guard in the area spent much of Monday calling around to marinas to urge people to stay off the water and remove their boats if possible. Master Chief Sean Sulski is the officer in charge at the Coast Guard station in Alexandria Bay.

“Most of them have said that they’ve pulled their boats or they’ve got the lines doubled up or tripled up in some cases,” Sulski said.

Officials believe the North Country’s lakes and rivers have enough extra space to handle the storm.

Updated, 7:22 a.m.:

The number of power outages in central and northern New York is slowly decreasing as the sun comes up and the wind dies down from the Hurricane Sandy storm system.

National Grid is reporting about 18,400 customers without lights as of 7 a.m. this morning. The highest outages are in Oswego County with about 1,400.

Things are worse in the Southern Tier. NYSEG is reporting more than 110,000 customer are still in the dark.

About 280 NYSEG customers are without power in Cayuga County.

Updated, 6:48 a.m.:

It appears predictions about much stronger winds coming off of Lake Ontario last night appear to have come true.

Meteorological equipment on the nuclear power plants near Oswego measured sustained winds in the high 50 mile per hour range around midnight, according to Jim Jones, the county's Emergency Medical Services Coordinator.

That compares to a top gust measured at Syracuse's Hancock Airport of 40 m.p.h. just before 5 p.m. Monday. Winds gusted to 35 m.p.h. just before 9 p.m.

Despite the high winds, Jones says no reports of major damage are coming in.

Here's our interview with Mr. Jones:

Oswego Co. two-way by RyanWRVO

Updated, 5:53 a.m.:

The Innovation Trail's Daniel Robison reports New York state's infrastructure should have done a pretty good job withstanding the high winds from last night. Here's his report:

This audio is pending

Here is our original post, 5:19 a.m.:

More than 100,000 people in upstate New York are waking up this morning not able to turn on the lights after the storm system associated with Hurricane Sandy ripped through the region late last night.

Post-tropical storm Sandy's projected path. Much of the high winds have already pass through the region.
Credit Screen shot / Weather Underground

NYSEG is reporting early this morning 105,100 customers are in the dark - mostly in the Southern Tier. About 23,200 are without power in the Rochester area.

National Grid reports about 19,200 customers are in the dark in its service area. A majority are in the Capital Region.

About 2,250 customers in Oswego County are without power. Also in Oswego County, the Nine Mile Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1 reported an automatic shutdown last night due to an electrical grid disturbance, according to Constellation Energy. No damage to the plant was reported.

In Fulton County, 1,811 customers are without power. Just 174 customers are in the dark in Onondaga County this morning, with most in the town of Lafayette.

The National Weather Service has canceled its high wind warning. A wind advisory is in effect for the Southern Tier and much of central New York until 5 p.m.

Click here for the latest schools closings.

Here's more from the Associated Press on damage in New York:

The day after superstorm Sandy started pummeling the Atlantic Coast, people far inland faced high winds that had already started wreaking havoc on trees and power lines.

Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers were without power as the storm crashed through the region, prompting schools, government offices and many businesses to close.

High wind warnings were posted for all of central New York Monday night and Tuesday morning with frequent gusts of 50 to 60 mph and occasional gusts of 70 mph in the western Catskills.

Emergency shelters were opening around New York in the face of the massive storm, with its winds extending 500 miles from its center.

Two storms last year caused devastating flooding in upstate New York.

And here's a report from the AP on power outages in the state:

The number of New York homes and businesses without electricity has topped a million, most of them in the New York City area, as the hybrid storm Sandy moves inland.

The pace of customers losing power quickened into Monday evening as gusty winds toppled trees and broke away limbs, tearing down power lines across the state.

About 997,000 of the customers affected as of about 8:30 p.m. are in New York City, Long Island and the northern suburbs.

About 133,000 more lost power in the rest of the state as the storm's stronger winds began to be felt.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says outages are expected to be widespread and long-lasting.

Our coverage of Sandy's move into upstate New York can be found here.