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NYC EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ISSUES TRAVEL ADVISORY FOR TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY
Wintry mix of snow and rain could cause slippery travel conditions
Arctic blast returns, with sub-zero wind chill values in the forecast
January 28, 2019 — The New York City Emergency Management Department today issued a travel advisory for Tuesday, January 29 and Wednesday, January 30. According to the latest National Weather Service forecast, a wintry mix of snow and rain could affect the New York City area Tuesday and Wednesday. Light snow could begin Tuesday morning before transitioning to rain by mid-morning. Rain will continue through the afternoon. As temperatures decrease Tuesday, the rain could briefly change over to snow Tuesday evening, causing for a messy evening commute. The steady drop in temperatures will cause any liquid on roads to freeze, producing spots of black ice. Precipitation will begin to taper off early Wednesday morning. A scattered snow shower cannot be ruled out Wednesday afternoon. A total of a coating to two inches of snow accumulation is in the forecast, with a worst case of three inches possible. Strong winds are also in the forecast on Wednesday, with gusts up to 45 mph possible. New Yorkers should prepare for slippery road conditions, exercise caution when driving, walking, or biking, and consider taking public transportation whenever possible.
“A wintry mix of snow and rain could cause for messy commutes Tuesday and Wednesday. The combination of snow and the decrease in temperatures may produce spots of black ice. We advise New Yorkers to take mass transit where possible, exercise caution, and allow for extra travel time,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “Frigid temperatures will also return. Stay indoors as much as possible. If you have to go outdoors, limit your time and bundle up.”
NYC Emergency Management will continue to work closely with National Weather Service to monitor the weather. The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has loaded 695 salt spreaders that will be ready to roll when the first flakes hit the city. DSNY will activate PlowNYC and will dispatch plows if more than two inches of snow accumulates on roadways. The City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) will pre-deploy crews to the East River bridges. DOT will pre-salt walkways at the ferry terminal, pedestrian overpasses, muni lots and step streets, and will continue to monitor these locations. DOT will monitor conditions on the citywide Transportation network at the Joint Transportation Management Center with State DOT and NYPD, and coordinate efforts to address any issues.
An arctic blast is also expected to move into the area Tuesday night through Thursday. Temperatures Tuesday night are in the lower 20s. Temperatures Wednesday will be in the mid-20s, with wind chill values as low as 10 degrees. By Wednesday night, temperatures will drop to single digits, with wind chill values as low as 15 degrees below zero. Sub-zero to single digit wind chill values stick around on Thursday. Temperatures and wind chill values are in the teens on Friday and are expected to return above freezing on Saturday.
“Freezing cold temperatures and winter weather are no joke. Extreme cold poses danger for all New Yorkers, but especially those at risk for hypothermia, like those who are homeless, those without heat at home, and those who drink heavily or use drugs and become incapacitated outdoors,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “New Yorkers should stay inside as much as possible, but if you do go outside, please dress warmly, wearing layers. If you are without heat at home, call 311. Stay alert for signs of hypothermia, like intense shivering or dizziness, and if you experience them, seek medical attention or call 911.”
Cold weather can cause or worsen health problems. Certain individuals, including the unsheltered homeless, people with disabilities and those with access and functional needs are at an increased risk for injuries, illness or death. Others at an increased risk also include people who drink heavily or use drugs and become incapacitated outdoors, or those who live in homes without heat, and:
- Are 65 years of age or older.
- Are infants.
- Have certain medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, high blood pressure, diabetes.
- Have serious mental health conditions or developmental disabilities.
To learn more about winter weather safety, visit the Health Department’s interactive online infographic.
Prolonged exposure to cold can lead to frostbite – which often results in red and painful or pale skin – and hypothermia. Symptoms of hypothermia include:
- Intense shivering
- Trouble speaking
- Lack of coordination
- Sluggishness or drowsiness
- Shallow breathing
If you see symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite, call 911 and follow instructions, or go to the emergency room.
- Small accumulations of ice can be extremely dangerous to motorist and pedestrians. Bridges and overpasses are particularly dangerous because they freeze before other surfaces.
- If you drive, use extra caution. Vehicles take longer to stop on snow and ice than on dry pavement.
- Four-wheel drive vehicles may make it easier to drive on snow-covered roads, but they stop less quickly than other vehicles.
- Use major streets or highways for travel whenever possible.
- Know your vehicle’s braking system. Vehicles with anti-lock brakes require a different braking technique than vehicles without anti-lock brakes in snowy conditions.
- If you are driving and begin to skid, ease your foot off the gas and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. Straighten the wheel when the car moves in the desired direction. If you have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply steady pressure to the brake pedal. Never pump the brakes on an ABS equipped vehicle.
- Try to keep your vehicle’s gas tank as full as possible.
- Pedestrians should exercise caution and avoid slippery surfaces; some ice may not be visible. Wear sturdy boots that provide traction to reduce slipping. Use handrails when using stairs.
- Seniors should take extra care outdoors to avoid slips and falls.
- Have heightened awareness of cars, particularly when approaching or crossing intersections.
- Be careful when shoveling snow. Follow your doctor’s advice if you have heart disease or high blood pressure. Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart.
- If you go outdoors, wear dry, warm clothing and cover exposed skin. Keep fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered. Wear a hat, hood, scarf, and gloves.
- Shivering is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Shivering is a signal to return indoors.
- Be safe at work. Workers who spend a lot of time outdoors are at risk for cold-related health impacts. If you are an employer, implement safe work practices, provide appropriate protective equipment, and train workers on how to stay safe during cold and winter weather.
- Limit alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol may make you feel warmer but it causes your body to lose heat faster. Alcohol also impairs your judgment, which limits your ability to take appropriate precautions or remove yourself from a dangerously cold environment in time. As a result, alcohol actually increases your chances of hypothermia and frostbite.
The Department of Buildings (DOB) is reminding property owners, contractors, and crane operators to take precautionary measures and secure their construction sites, buildings, and equipment during high winds. The department will perform random spot-check inspections of construction sites around the city. If sites are not secured, the department will take immediate enforcement action — issuing violations and Stop Work Orders, where necessary. To safeguard construction sites, builders, contractors, and developers should take all precautionary measures including but not limited to the following:
- Tie down and secure material and loose debris at construction sites.
- Cover electrical equipment from exposure to the weather.
- Store loose tools, oil cans, and extra fuses in a toolbox.
- Secure netting, scaffolding, and sidewalk sheds.
- Suspend crane operations and secure crane equipment when wind speeds reach 30 mph or greater.
- Suspend hoist operations and secure exterior hoists when wind speeds reach 35 mph or greater, unless manufacturer specifications state otherwise.
- Brace and secure construction fences.
- Call 911 if there is an emergency on a construction site.
Buildings Bulletin 2015-029 outlines the requirements for vertical netting, debris netting and material-fall protection devices at buildings and construction sites. To view this bulletin, click here.
To secure a building, property owners should take all precautionary measures including but not limited to the following:
- Bring inside loose, lightweight objects such as lawn furniture, potted plants, garbage cans, garden tools, and toys.
- Anchor objects that would be unsafe outside, such as gas grills or propane tanks.
- Close up and secure patio umbrellas.
- Secure retractable awnings.
- Remove aerial antennas and satellite television dishes.
- Pay attention to local weather forecasts and bulletins issued by the National Weather Service on local radio stations.
- Beware of falling branches if you are near trees.
- To prepare for a possible power outage, charge cell phone batteries, gather supplies, and turn your refrigerator and freezer to a colder setting. If you lose power, items that need refrigeration will stay cooler for longer.
- If your power goes out, disconnect or turn off appliances that would otherwise turn on automatically when service is restored. If several appliances start up at once, the electric circuits may overload.
- Make sure your flashlights and any battery-operated radios or televisions are working. Keep extra batteries.
- If you lose power & have a disability, access and functional needs or use Life Sustaining Equipment (LSE) & need immediate assistance, dial 911.
A Code Blue Weather Emergency notice is issued when the temperature is forecast to drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or less between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m., including National Weather Service calculations for wind chill values. No one who is homeless and seeking shelter in New York City during a Code Blue will be denied. Should you see an individual who appears to be homeless and in need out in the cold, please call 311 and an outreach team will be dispatched to offer assistance.
During Code Blue Weather emergencies, experienced outreach teams work to connect homeless New Yorkers with the following resources such as shelters, drop-in centers, safe havens and stabilizations beds, and street homeless outreach. During homeless outreach, teams will contact vulnerable individuals on their Code Blue Priority Lists a minimum of once every four (4) hours beginning at 8 p.m. during Code Blue Alerts and once every two (2) hours beginning at 8 p.m. for Enhanced Code Blue Alerts to encourage them to accept services, including transportation to a shelter placement. DSS coordinates borough-level Code Blue efforts directly with partner City agencies, including but not limited to NYPD, DSNY, and the Parks Department.
Housing Preservation and Development
Residential building owners are legally required to maintain indoor temperatures at 68 degrees when the temperatures fall below 55 degrees outside during the day and a minimum of 62 degrees indoors overnight, regardless of outdoor temperatures. If an apartment lacks appropriate heat, a tenant should first attempt to notify the building owner, managing agent or superintendent. If heat is not restored, the tenant should register an official complaint via 311. Tenants can call 311, visit 311 online at NYC.gov/311, or use the 311 mobile application (311MOBILE on Android and iOS devices) to file a complaint. Hearing-impaired tenants can register complaints via a Touchtone Device for the Deaf TDD at (212) 504-4115.The center is open 24-hours a day, seven-days a week.
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will take measures to ensure that the building owner is complying with the law. This may include contacting the building’s owner and/or sending an inspector to verify the complaint and issue a violation directing the owner to restore heat and hot water if appropriate. If the owner fails to comply and does not restore service, HPD may initiate repairs through its Emergency Repair Program and bill the landlord for the cost of the work. HPD may also initiate legal action against properties that are issued heat violations, and owners who incur multiple heat violations are subject to litigation seeking maximum litigation penalties and continued scrutiny on heat and other code deficiencies.
Take measures to trap existing warm air and safely stay warm until heat returns, including:
- Insulate your home as much as possible. Hang blankets over windows and doorways and stay in a well-insulated room while the heat is out.
- Dress warmly. Wear hats, scarves, gloves, and layered clothing.
- If you have a well-maintained working fireplace and use it for heat and light, be sure to keep the damper open for ventilation. Never use a fireplace without a screen.
- If the cold persists and your heat is not restored call family, neighbors, or friends to see if you can stay with them.
- Do not use your oven or fuel-burning space heaters to heat your home. These can release carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that you cannot see or smell.
- Open your faucets to a steady drip so pipes do not freeze.
For more safety tips, visit NYC.gov/EmergencyManagement. New Yorkers are also encouraged to download the Notify NYC mobile application, which is available for free download from iTunes or Google Play. Notify NYC is the City’s free emergency notification system. Through Notify NYC, New Yorkers can also receive phone calls, text messages, and/or email alerts about weather conditions and other emergencies. To learn more about the Notify NYC program or to sign up, visit NYC.gov/NotifyNYC or call 311. You can also follow @NotifyNYC on Twitter.
The Advance Warning System (AWS) alerts organizations who work with people with disabilities and access and functional needs to various types of hazards and emergencies in New York City that may affect people's independence and daily lives. Participating organizations receive public preparedness and emergency information that they can relay to their clients and other similar agencies. If you work for an organization that serves people with disabilities or access and functional needs you can subscribe for AWS Alerts at the following link: https://www.advancewarningsystemnyc.org/aws
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