12:46pm

Mon October 29, 2012
Weather

Sandy blows into upstate New York with high winds, rain

Below is WRVO's coverage of the first day of Hurricane Sandy's impact on upstate New York. Later coverage can be found here.

Updated, 9:30 p.m.:

WRVO's Joanna Richards is reporting tonight on preparations being made in the North Country's Jefferson County. Here's an excerpt of her report:

Credit screen shot / Weather Underground

All around Jefferson County, people were stocking up on water, fuel and food, stowing loose items in their yards, and storing boats for the winter ahead of Hurricane Sandy. 

Many marinas along Lake Ontario's shoreline have already closed for the season, but Harbor's End, in Henderson, is still in the process of lifting its 80 boats out of the water for dry winter storage.

The rest of her story can be read here. You can also scroll down to see more pictures from Jefferson County.

Updated, 8:44 p.m.:

Oswego is seeing some damage as Sandy's winds continue to pick up and blow even stronger off of Lake Ontario.

At least part of a roof has blown off a building in the steam power station and water treatment plant complex next to the SUNY Oswego campus.

Little rainfall is coming down around most of upstate New York. Only 1-3 inches is expected from Sandy, which is now a post-tropical storm. The real damage will come from the wind.

Here's a picture of the Oswego damage. You can see a large chunk of a roof sitting on top of the left building. There are also smaller pieces up against the fence.

Part of a roof has blown off a building in the power plant and water treatment plant complex in Oswego.
Credit Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Power outages continue to increase tonight as well, especially in the Southern Tier. NYSEG reports 70,800 customers without power there.

Within National Grid's service area in central and northern New York and the Capital Region, about 25,800 customers are in the dark. More outages are in the Capital region, but 3,400 customers are without power north of Rome.

The National Weather Service office in Binghamton is reporting sustained winds of 23 miles per hour with gusts of 34 m.p.h. this hour.

Also tonight, the governor has announced the speed limit on the Thruway in western New York has been lowered.

Updated, 7:17 p.m.:

Power outages continue to rise in the Southern Tier as Sandy's winds continue to increase. NYSEG is reporting almost 51,000 customers in that region are without power.

Central New York is seeing far fewer outages, but they are increasing.

Oneida County emergency officials are beginning to receive calls for downed trees and power lines, but nothing too serious, said Gerald Pedersen in the emergency management office a short time ago. His office is expecting the worst to be after midnight tonight.

Winds at Syracuse's Hancock Airport were measured at 14 miles per hour with gusts of 21 m.p.h. at 6:54 p.m., which is down from earlier hours.

Here is more from the Associated Press on impacts in New York:

More than 850,000 New York homes and businesses are without electricity, most of them in the New York City area as Hurricane Sandy began to move onshore.

The number of customers losing power grew quickly through the day and accelerated into Monday evening.

About 775,000 of the customers affected as of about 7 p.m. are in New York City, Long Island and the northern suburbs.

About 81,000 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.

Power will be restored first to hospitals, mass transit and police, fire, sewage and water-pumping stations.

WRVO's Durrie Lawrence sent in this picture of a pumpkin patch at Owens Orchard in Weedsport shortly before darkness settled:

Wind blows through Owens Orchard in Weedsport this afternoon.
Credit Durrie Lawrence / WRVO

Updated, 6:25 p.m.:

Upstate New York is about to see the strongest winds Hurricane Sandy will bring, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), as power outages continue to rise - mostly in the Southern Tier.

Sustained winds of 30-40 miles per hour with gusts of up to 60 m.p.h. will be reached this evening through about 2 a.m. Tuesday, according to NWS meteorologist Dave Nicosia in Binghamton. He says stronger wind gusts will be felt off of Lake Ontario.

There is still minimal risk of flooding as most of the heavy rain will stay south and west of upstate, Nicosia says.

NYSEG is reporting about 34,000 customers without power in the Southern Tier, nearly 4 percent of the population.

Here is WRVO's latest local newscast with updates on Sandy's impacts:

WRVO News Oct. 29, 2012 6 p.m. newscast.

Updated, 5:52 p.m.:

There are about 27,000 customers without power across the Southern Tier, according to NYSEG's outage map. That's about 3 percent of its total customer base in that region.

A satellite image of Hurricane Sandy as of about 5:45 p.m. Monday evening.
Credit Screen shot / Weather Underground

Outages are starting to pop up across National Grid's service area as well, which includes Onondaga County, most of the North Country and east to the Capital Region.

National Grid's outage map is reporting about 14,300 customers in the dark, with most of those closer to Albany.

Updated, 5:16 p.m.:

Virginia Limmiatis, spokeswoman for National Grid, says there are still no reports of major power outages throughout their service area.

Winds are forecasted to pick up around 8 p.m. tonight and continue through 8 a.m. Tuesday, which will increase the likelihood of outages, Limmiatis said.

WRVO reporter Joanna Richards has been monitoring storm preparations from Watertown. She sent along these pictures:

Joseph Plummer, director of fire and emergency management for Jefferson County said earlier this afternoon he does not expect any major damage from Sandy. While officials there will be monitoring the situation, the county will likely not open its Emergency Operations Center tonight, Plummer said.

Finally, the governor announced a few minutes ago New York's canal system is officially closed. Much of the Erie Canal was closed over the weekend so water levels could be lowered in preparation of heavy rain.

Updated, 3:51 p.m.:

Power outages are beginning to increase in New York state, with most of those affected in the New York City area. Emergency management offices in central and northern New York are not reporting any major outages or other reports due to the storm yet.

A satellite image of Hurricane Sandy shortly after 4 p.m. Monday.
Credit Screen shot / Weather Underground

Here's more on the outages from the AP:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says more than 71,000 New York homes and businesses are without electricity, most of them in the New York City, area hours before the projected landfall of Hurricane Sandy.

The number of customers losing power grew quickly through midday Monday.

About 56,000 of the customers are in New York City and Long Island.

About 12,000 more lost power in the rest of the state as the storm's stronger winds began to be felt.

The power losses were already creeping upstate by mid-afternoon, with more than 8,000 outages from Rockland and Orange counties through Central New York.

Cuomo said outages are expected to be widespread and long-lasting.

Power will be restored first to hospitals, mass transit and police, fire, sewage and water-pumping stations.

Meanwhile, State and local officials in central New York say they are prepared for whatever Sandy brings our way later tonight, reports WRVO's Ellen Abbott, who was at a briefing this afternoon at Onondaga County Emergency Operations Center.

It's the wind that worries emergency management people the most as Sandy lumbers through upstate New York.

Among agencies ready for any damage from those winds, is the State department of Transportation.

The DOT is readying equipment, organizing crews to remove downed trees, limbs and other debris on the roadways. Identifying staff that will conduct flood watches. monitoring bridges as water rises, and organizing staff to respond to each region of the state.

The county emergency center in Syracuse will monitor the storm's impact, and coordinate resources, according to commissioner Kevin Wisley. 

Wisely expects there could be damage from the wind and advises residents to be prepared.

"We're urging all residents to put lawn decorations away, their grills their furniture, Halloween decorations that are out, because those things could easily fly through the air," Wisely said.

The best advice says Wisely is to stay home, and keep the roads clear, so emergency crews can do their job.  

Updated, 3:23 p.m.:

WRVO News reporter Durrie Lawrence visited the Wegmans in Fayetteville, east of Syracuse to check in on how people are preparing before Hurricane Sandy's effects roll into upstate New York. She found a packed parking lot and some empty shelves. Here are some photos:

Supplies of bottled water and bread soon ran low at Wegmans, as shoppers prepared for high winds and possible power outages.

Most residents weren't too apprehensive.

"This is my normal grocery shopping, but I'm getting more water, I'm getting firewood. I don't know what this is going to bring or if it's going to bring anything," said Lynne Lewis of Syracuse.

After living in central New York for 20 years, Albert Zumbuhl of DeWitt says he's seen quite a few storms, but nothing and nothing of this magnitude.

"What we're going to be hit with, from what I heard, isn't going to be that severe," he said "I'm expecting to be working tomorrow and throughout the week."

Nevertheless, he bought bottled water and some firewood - mostly to calm the kids' nerves, Zumbul said.

"I'm not too concerned about it."

Updated, 2:51 p.m.:

Broome County in the Southern Tier has declared a state of emergency, WSKG and the Innovation Trail's Matt Richmond is reporting.

County Executive Debbie Preston says high winds are expected to hit the region starting at around 8 p.m. tonight. Sustained winds around 40 miles per hours could remain throughout the night.

Preston says the state of emergency is meant to keep the roads clear during the worst of the storm.

"It's going to be dark, it's going to be late when this hits, so there's going to be no travel until we get through this," Preston said at a briefing earlier today.

The forecast calls for mostly heavy winds and much less rain than during last year's Tropical Storm Lee that pummeled the region.

Here is the latest from the Associated Press:

From the Hudson Valley to the Adirondacks and west to Buffalo, upstate New Yorkers are stocking up on supplies, boarding up windows and fleeing flood-prone homes as a massive storm Sandy churns into the region.

Municipal offices, colleges, and dozens of school districts across the state shut down Monday, hours before the storm was expected to arrive with heavy rain and wind gusting to 65 mph.

The storm is a hybrid forming as Hurricane Sandy merges with a winter storm from the west and an arctic blast from the north. The National Weather Service predicts sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph Monday afternoon through Tuesday, and one to six inches of rain.

The wind is expected to cause more damage than usual because it's coming from the north in a region where trees are anchored against the prevailing west wind.

Here is our original post:

As Hurricane Sandy makes its way toward the Eastern Seaboard, upstate New York is bracing for high winds.

While the storm system will also bring rain and a chance for flash flooding in parts of the state, the National Weather Service (NWS) says the biggest damage could come from wind.

A high wind warning begins for all of upstate at 2 p.m. today and continues through 5 p.m. tomorrow evening for most of central New York. The warning ends at 11 a.m. tomorrow for counties along Lake Ontario.

The state will receive 1-3 inches of rain over the next few days with heavier rain in the Southern Tier and Catskills, according to the NWS. Those areas have a higher chance of flash flooding, but the chance of rivers overflowing is low, according to the NWS office in Binghamton.

The real damage will be from wind. Forecasters say sustained winds of 30-40 miles per hour will begin this afternoon with gusts up to 60 m.p.h. through tonight.

Winds will be twice as strong as a typical lake effect snow storm or Nor'easter that impacts upstate, according to Dr. Steve Skubis, a meteorology professor at Oswego State College.

"Typically winds for a Nor’easter, here, they’re like 30-40 miles per hour – gusting up and it’s blowing, drifting. So this is something that’s greater strength," he says.

Winds will also not be coming from their normal direction. Since Sandy is an extra-tropical storm, winds will be blowing from the north, northeast, Skubis says.

With some leaves still on the trees, the winds have an increased potential to knock down limbs, which could cause power outages.

Utility company National Grid says it has activated its storm emergency plan.

County emergency management offices across central New York say they continue to monitor the storm and are receiving updates from the National Weather Service.

Many schools and colleges in the region will be closing early today and staying shut through tomorrow. You can find a complete list of school closings here.

State response

Here's the latest on New York State's preparations for Sandy from our Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says pre-storm preparations are finished, and he and state officials are now actively monitoring the situation as Hurricane Sandy approaches.  

The governor, speaking at a briefing in New York City,  says he spent the day Sunday touring the state, and he says he and his aides have done all they can at this point to prepare for the storm.

“We are very comfortable with the preparation that has been done all across the state,” says Cuomo, who said his office is coordinating with federal and local officials.

The governor says the biggest remaining question, though, is how high the storm water surges will be on the coasts. Cuomo’s director of emergency operations, Howard Glaser, says the flood surges could be potentially record breaking, at 11.7 feet during high tide Monday evening, higher than the surges during hurricane Irene last year.

Officials don’t believe they’ll be so lucky with Sandy.

New York City’s subway system is already closed, and the governor announced closure of two tunnels in New York City, the Holland and Brooklyn battery tunnels. MTA Chair Joseph Lhota, says his biggest concern is water entering the system at the Battery at the tip of lower Manhattan.

“Our subway system and salt water do not mix very well together,” said Lhota.

In downstate as well as upstate, prolonged power outages are expected due to the high winds. The governor says 4,000 extra utility workers are coming to the state, but with so many Eastern states potentially affected, it may be hard to get additional crews.

“You’re going to have states basically in competition for scare resources,” said Cuomo.

Cuomo says as the storm intensifies, New Yorkers need not panic, but he warns, no one should take the storm predictions lightly, and stay home. He says leave the roads free for emergency vehicles and don’t go to take pictures on the beach.

The Governor says things can go bad very fast.

“When it goes bad, it goes very bad”, he said.

Across the state

Here is the latest from the Associated Press on Hurricane Sandy's impacts along the coast:

Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy is about 310 miles south-southeast of New York City, and the center of the storm is expected to be near the mid-Atlantic coast tonight.

The National Hurricane Center says that the storm has top sustained winds of 85 mph, with higher gusts. It is moving toward the north-northwest at 20 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 175 miles from the storm's center.

Sandy is on track to collide with a wintry storm moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic.

Major metropolitan areas from Washington to Boston are bracing for what is expected to be a superstorm that could menace some 50 million people in the most heavily populated corridor in the nation.

The AP is also reporting some parts of New York are at a higher risk of flooding:

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, predicting the river will rise to 3½ feet above flood stage due to the storm surge from the Atlantic.

Moderate flooding is expected tonight around midnight, with the river subsiding below flood stage around 4 a.m. tomorrow.

The only other flooding predicted along upstate rivers and streams is in the Catskill Mountain region of southeastern New York.

Minor flooding is predicted tomorrow morning along the Schoharie Creek at Prattsville, a Catskill Mountain village that had severe flooding damage from Irene.

Minor flooding is also predicted tomorrow morning along the Esopus Creek at Cold Brook, the Rondout Creek at Rosendale, and the Wallkill River at Gardiner.

Resources

Here are some ways you can stay updated on the storm:

You can visit nyalert.gov to get the latest announcements from various state agencies. You can also sign up to receive text and email alerts.

The governor's office has compiled a Twitter list you can subscribe to. So has FEMA.

National Grid has set up a special website for Hurricane Sandy. You can also sign up for text message alerts by texting 'STORM' to 'NGRID' (64743).

NPR's The Two-way blog is tracking, mapping and constantly posting Hurricane Sandy updates.

And you can track Sandy's path with this interactive map from the New York Times.