The threat of potentially heavy rain and the possibility of flooding prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office on Friday to direct state resources to regions of the state where stormy weather may become a problem this weekend.
The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for this afternoon through Sunday afternoon for eight counties in WNY, including Niagara, northern Erie and Orleans. Forecasters expect periods of rain to develop across the region and to become widespread and heavy throughout the day today and into the evening.
The weather service said total rainfall amounts could reach 1.5 to 2.5 inches, with the greatest amounts expected across the Niagara Frontier. Forecasters noted that heavy rain falling on nearly saturated ground will result in excessive runoff, which may lead to flooding of low-lying areas and urban areas. Flooding is also possible on some larger rivers as well, including the Buffalo area creeks. Flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline was a persistent issue last year.
In advance of the weather system, Cuomo directed state agencies to deploy emergency response assets
"This storm system will deliver a significant amount of rain and ice across many portions of the state with the potential for flooding in some of our more problematic areas, so New Yorkers must take precautions this weekend when traveling," Cuomo said. "I have directed state resources to take a proactive approach, and crews are already downing potentially hazardous tree limbs and clearing creeks and streams of debris to help lessen flooding concerns."
Cuomo activated the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Emergency Operations Center to "Enhanced Monitoring Mode" and said it will monitor weather conditions, coordinate state response operations and stay in contact with localities throughout the duration of the event.
Cuomo's office said state stockpiles are also prepared to deploy assets to localities affected by storm-related needs, including pumps, chainsaws, sandbags and bottled water. Additionally, the Division's Office of Fire Prevention and Control has its Swift Water Urban Search and Rescue teams standing by to assist local first responders in the event assistance is needed. Teams are equipped with boats and high-axle vehicles.
Cuomo's office indicated that the State Department of Transportation is prepared to respond with 3,716 supervisors and operators available statewide.
To support snow and ice response activities in critical areas, plow truck operators, supervisors and medium duty crew trucks were deployed to the North Country, capital region, Southern Tier and Central NY.
Cuomo's office said the need for additional resources will be re-evaluated as conditions warrant throughout the event.