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Hudson Valley Preps For Winter Storm Juno

picture of trees in snow
WAMC
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With up to two feet of snow predicted for the Hudson Valley, county and state personnel are on high alert and readying their forces.

On-and-off flurries began in portions of the Hudson Valley before 9 this morning while light snow came into view about an hour later. The message from local officials is the same. Get home before dark and get off the roads ahead of the evening commute. Vasil Koleci with the National Weather Service says to expect light snow today.

“The main event’s going to be overnight, starting late tonight into the day tomorrow where we’re going to see the significant snowfall in that area, in the Hudson Valley going into the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut,” says Koleci. “Basically, we’re looking at snows to increase and the heaviest will be during the morning and afternoon hours tomorrow.”

He says the forecast is for about 14-18 inches in the mid-Hudson Valley and 18-24 inches toward New York City.

“We’re looking at anywhere from 10-14 inches in the Capital region,” Koleci says. “As you go further east into the Berkshires, you’re looking at anywhere from 14-18 inches of snow, and south and east down towards Connecticut you’re looking at anywhere from 18-24 inches down towards Litchfield County.”

He says snowfall expectations could shift if the storm tracks further east. Central Hudson Spokesman John Maserjian says the forecast dry snow causes less concern than if a wet, heavy snow were on route. However, the snow and wind could cause trees to down power lines.

“It may be difficult for crews to address power interruptions simply because of travel restrictions or even blocked roads because of snow drifts or downed trees,” says Maserjian. “So we brought in additional crews from Chicago to help us out. They’re due to arrive today. Twenty-five crews made up of 50 linemen should go a long way in assisting us should we see widespread power outages.”

He says harder-to-access areas and those in higher terrain are of great concern.

“For this storm, we’re looking at the heaviest snowfall in the southern part of our service territory. For us that means southern Dutchess, Putnam County, and northern Orange County,” says Maserjian. “And while those areas are certainly not as mountainous as the Catskills, there’s still some pretty significant hills in Putnam County. So we’re going to be looking very carefully at coordinating our response with the municipalities and counties so that we can gain access to those areas if we need to.”

Ned McCormack is spokesman for Westchester County. He says county commissioners were meeting earlier today.

“We will then tonight, about 4 o’clock actually, open the EOC, which is our Emergency Operations Center in Hawthorne. And that will be staffed overnight by key departments. And, again, we’ll bring everyone together in one place so that we can manage this from a central location,” says McCormack. “And then it’s kind of a little bit of wait and see. Every storm has its own personality.”

In Orange County, the Emergency Operations Center was to be activated starting at noon. Municipal leaders were contacted Sunday evening so that localities can begin coordinating planning and preparation efforts with the county. Road crews and emergency responders started mobilizing today, including the Department of Public Works’ fleet of 35 vehicles. Orange County Emergency Services Commissioner Walter Khoury says the predicted wind gusts Tuesday could complicate matters.

“So with the powdery snow we’re going to be getting a lot of drifting in the area,” says Khoury. “So it’s maintaining the roadways, keeping them open will be the biggest hazard that we foresee right now.”

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro says he’s in touch with his counterparts in surrounding counties and they’re all being kept up to date via calls with the National Weather Service.

“We do expect southeast, east Dutchess County - the Pawling, Dover area - to receive the heaviest amount of snow,” says Molinaro.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the National Guard will have more than six dozen personnel and 20 vehicles stationed throughout the region, including the National Guard’s Peekskill location and Stewart Air National Guard Base in Orange County. Eric Durr is spokesman for the New York State division of Military and Naval Affairs.

“So in the Hudson Valley, the New York National Guard will have what we call two immediate response forces. These are five vehicles with at least two soldiers and airmen in each vehicle. And these vehicles can be used for traffic control or if you need to move a person or equipment through an area where there’s a lot of snowfall. Humvees are okay in snow,” says Durr. “So we’ll have basically five vehicles at each location – Stewart Air National Guard Base and the Armory in Peekskill - and we’ll have ten people on duty around the clock.  And that is the tasking for us at this time.”

State police from Troop K — covering Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties — are reminding people to use extreme caution if they must travel the region's roads and highways Monday and Tuesday. Troopers say the storm could make travel virtually impossible on Tuesday, and they're advising people to stay home. Cuomo says sections of the Thruway and Interstate 84 in the Hudson Valley could be closed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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