Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Holds Storm Briefing Call

New York Governor's picture
Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Holds Storm...

Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Holds Storm Briefing Call

Earlier today, Governor Cuomo, joined by Kevin Wisely, Director of the New York State Office of Emergency Management; Michael Kopy, Governor's Office Director of Emergency Management; and Keith Corlett, Acting State Police Superintendent, held a storm briefing call ahead of extreme winter weather expected throughout the weekend.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below: 

Governor Cuomo: Thank you for getting on the telephone call. As you heard from the operator, we're joined by Kevin Wisely, who is the Director of the New York State Office of Emergency Management. Michael Kopy, who is new to the position and a little trial by fire, we wanted to give Mr. Kopy a full sense of what the job was going to be about and first week he's going to experience it. Formerly with the State Police, Michael Kopy has a lot of emergency management experience and I think he's going to be great. We also have Acting Superintendent Keith Corlett, who I'm going to nominate to the Senate to be the Superintendent. He's acting now, and he's been on the job for about two days, so he'll be up to the task for this weekend.

The issue is the snow storm, obviously, that the weather forecasters say will hit the State of New York. I'll turn it over to Mr. Wisely in a moment to give you an update on the latest weather forecast. On a macro point of view, it is problematic and dangerous for us because it is a high level of snow over a large geographic area. Many of the extreme weather situations we experience tend to be regionally isolated. And when they're regionally isolated they are, by definition, more manageable. We deploy resources from across the state to the affected region or regions. We've worked very hard in developing more emergency management capacity - more equipment, more material, more training. And the concept of moving across the state is also new - you didn't have equipment from Buffalo going to Long Island, we now do that.

The problem with this situation is the magnitude of the geographic area. Roughly, it will be less in downstate New York, but less is still problematic in downstate New York. Upstate New York, the snow is actually more manageable than it is in downstate New York. And then in upstate it's virtually across the entire upstate area. So, we will be stretched in terms of resources and materials. And we won't have the ability to do the regional isolation as I mentioned. 

But with that, let me turn it over to Kevin Wisely. He will speak about the weather forecast. I'll then turn it over to Michael Kopy who will tell you what we're doing to get ready. And then Acting Superintendent Keith Corlett will talk about what the New York State Police are doing. Kevin?

Kevin Wisely: Thank you Governor. So as we all know winter storm warnings will be in effect beginning tomorrow afternoon across most of upstate New York, generally north of I-84, Interstate 84, with winter storm watches for the downstate area. After a quiet, although cold day today, the weekend weather storm will begin to roll in from southwest of the state Saturday morning. It will overspread the state Saturday afternoon into the evening. The heaviest of the snow squall will be overnight Saturday through the day on Sunday. The interior portion of New York State, as the Governor articulated, will see the large portion of the snowfall from 14 to 20 inches, with a portion of the Capital Region receiving up to 24 inches. Snow will linger into Monday with gusting winds that will be causing some blowing snow conditions.

In New York City, we're looking at three to six inches of snowfall before the transition to rain. On Long Island, two to five inches of snowfall can be expected before the transition to rain. In our Mid-Hudson region, the precipitation will transition from all snow to a mix of snow and rain and even some ice pellets. The remainder of the state is expected to remain all snow. Winds will get to 35 miles an hour as the system moves through the state.

Our general regional total snowfall accumulation potentials over this weekend period, from west to east, eight to 12 inches along the shores of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and on our northern border. Eleven to 15 inches across Western New York, Finger Lakes, western Southern Tier and northern Central region, as well as the central Adirondacks. Again, that 14 to 20 inches across Southern Tier, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, our northeastern North Country. That interior portion of the state, with a localized portion in the southeastern Mohawk Valley and Capital Region it could reach 19 to 25, 24 inches. And as you go down the Hudson Valley, the northern portion of the Mid-Hudson 11 to 15 inches. Eight to 12 across the central, perhaps a six to nine in the southern Mid-Hudson. And again, New York City seeing three to six, and two to five on Long Island before that transition. 

Downstate we will see the transition to rain early morning Sunday, which will certainly help melt away some of the snow that has fallen in New York City and Long Island. In the Mid-Hudson region, the transition from snow will be a mix of precipitation types before the transition back to snow. We're watching, also very carefully about, since this is a statewide event, although we will have rain and a wet precipitation downstate, the temperatures will be warm on Sunday, but as the arctic blast comes through across the state we will get very frigid cold temperatures Sunday night into Monday where we're worried about the potential for flash freezing. So although they may not have snow downstate we'll be watching closely for freezing as we transition back to cold weather. The cold temperatures will linger through the day Monday with subzero wind-chill through portions of the state. That's the weather update, back to you Governor.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you very much. With that, we'll turn it over to Michael Kopy.

Michael Kopy: Thanks, Governor. Our number priority right now is to keep communities safe and we're putting the full weight on the state of New York to keep roads clear and to respond to incidents as quickly as possible. At this time, we're coordinating with local governments and working closely with them to ensure that they have the resources that they need to be prepared for the storm. The Nation Guard will have 450 soldiers and airmen on duty and we will be deploying 105 military vehicles to provide transportation support and assistance with debris clearance as the storm goes on. The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 1,602 large plow trucks. This will include the following reserves throughout the state to deal with targeted problems that develop during the course of the storm. It will include 7 plows in the Capital region, 7 in Central New York, 40 on Long Island, 25 in the Mid-Hudson region, 2 in the Mohawk Valley, 1 in the North Country, 4 in the Southern Tier, and 14 in Western New York. Additionally, we will have 50 tow plows deployed throughout the state, 326 large blowers, 38 snow blowers, 20 graders, 204 medium duty and pickup trucks with plows, 32 tractor trailers, and approximately 3900 operators and supervisors who will be available to operate this equipment 24/7 until this storm ends. We'll also have more than 450,000 tons of salt on hand. Currently, we're redeploying 30 trucks, 30 operators, and 4 equipment operator instructors from Long Island to the Capital Region, Central New York, the lower Hudson Valley, and the Southern Tier and Binghamton areas. In addition, the North Country region will be assisting Central New York to enhance services on I-81 south of Syracuse. The Thruway Authority is ready to respond with 663 supervisors and operators who will be operating 250 large snow plows, 129 medium snow plows, 11 tow plows, 58 loaders, and they will have more than 123,000 tons of road salt available.

I've spoken with the Port Authority since Thursday; they've been on high alert for this weekend storm as well as they smaller storm that occurred last night into this morning. They've made extensive preparations for personnel and equipment at all facilities, including the New York airports. There were no major issues with any of the airport tunnels, bridges, or the path of the system during the brief snowfall that occurred last night. All Port Authority facilities will deploy more staffing and more equipment and other resources than it would typically use for similar size snowstorms in the past. They will be over prepared for this event. As with past winter storms, the port will activate its main emergency operation center in Jersey City, which oversees all Port Authority facilities at 6 p.m. Saturday. Airlines are currently making decisions about whether flights will be canceled in advance, but given past experience we anticipate there could be extensive cancelations Saturday night and Sunday based on the current forecast. We're urging travelers to check with airlines before going to the airport. The MTA will begin pulling articulated, the longer buses, off the road by Saturday afternoon. Those buses will be replaced with standard 40 foot local buses, which are shorter and will have chains on them Saturday and Sunday to better navigate the slippery roads. The bridges and tunnels, the MTA is prepositioning snow fighting equipment. They will have 8,700 tons of deicer material on hand and 107 storm fighting equipment for the bridges and tunnels to address the storm. Subways, we anticipate normal weekend service. We will be activating the real rail leaders, switch heaters, and additional signal maintainers during the storm. Salting and sanding of platforms and entrances will begin and we will be running deicer trains during the course of the storm. The LIRR and Metro North will also be operating normal weekend service tomorrow. They will also be running deicer trains on both railroads and the trains will be equipped with scrapper shoes to scrape the ice. Finally, we spoke with the PSC and the PSC is ready and prepared to deploy resources as necessary to deal with any potential outages statewide. The utilities have approximately 4,300 base line internal and contractor crews available, statewide for strong response and restoration. In addition, utilities are requested and will be getting an additional 600 full time employees. All crews will be arriving on Saturday. I'll turn it back over to you, Governor, thank you.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you, Michael, well done. And last but not least, we have acting superintendent of New York State Police, Keith Corlett.

Keith Corlett: Good Morning Governor. In New York State we will be increasing patrols, for the duration of the storm. And will maintain storm enhance patrols, as long as needed. In addition to our normalize patrol staffing, an additional 110 Troopers and a number of supervisors will be out working, to coordinate our efforts with the New York State Department of Transportation as well as the New York State Thruway Authority. Additionally, we work with the New York State Parks, and DEC, and we are strategically staging 25 snowmobiles and 15 all wheel UTVS statewide including along the New York State Thruway, which will allow for any rapid responses necessary. We are also working closely with our local law enforcement partners and we will have to dispatch to any activated county emergency operation center. We are also in contact border state partners, particularly Pennsylvania, Connecticut as it relates to interstate 84 and the Green Mountains in orange county, historically and high impact and troublesome area. Lastly we want to urge all motorist to avoid any and all unnecessary travel. Thank you.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you very much, Superintendent and Mr. Wisely and Mr. Kopy I will be working all weekend and I will be all throughout the state as you heard through Mr. Kopy, we'll have a number of regional operation centers set up and I will be going from one to the other and depending on the storm shifts and focusing on the places where its worth.

Copy this html code to your website/blog to embed this press release.