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Nor'easter Slamming East Coast

A CDTA bus picks up passengers outside the WAMC studios on Albany's Central Avenue.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
A CDTA bus picks up passengers outside the WAMC studios on Albany's Central Avenue.

A major Nor'easter hit the East Coast overnight, dumping heavy wet snow with strong winds forecast throughout the day. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas has the latest.

More than 2,100 flights were canceled, most spread across airports in the Northeast.  Delta, Southwest, JetBlue and American Airlines were allowing travelers to change their Friday and Saturday flights to avoid delays and cancellations at key airports.  At 11:45 a.m. Albany International Airport Operations reported the storm had dropped 11 inches of snow.  16 departing flights were canceled.

Conditions depend on where you are.  Western New York into northern Pennsylvania was expected to get hit hardest, with 8 to 12 inches expected. Across the East Coast, authorities told residents of coastal communities to be prepared to evacuate, if necessary, in advance of high tides.

Forecasters predict wind gusts exceeding 50 mph as the storm moves up the Eastern seaboard, with possible hurricane-strength winds of 80 to 90 mph on Cape Cod.  The National Weather Service says all of Rhode Island was under flood and high wind watches through Sunday morning.

Schools and municipal offices are closed in several communities across New York and New England.  "We've got 11,000 people out in and around the Capital Region. That includes Saratoga and the North Country and as far down as Hudson."

National Grid spokesman Nate Stone with mid-morning outage numbers. According to police, the City of Albany is experiencing periodic power outages. Police are advising motorists who may encounter an intersection in which the traffic lights are out to proceed as if the intersection is a “4-way stop.”

Stone says due to the heavy wet snow, the utility is dealing with toppled trees and fallen branches.  "Pine trees are taking down our lines. We're not seeing a lot of broken poles, so that's a good thing. It means restorations will take a lot less time."

If you take the bus, CDTA's Jaimie Watson says to expect minimal delays.  "We're looking anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes depending on where you're riding in the system, talking about Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Saratoga areas. Our operators are trained to drive in this kind of weather. They're doing a phenomenal job out there today considering the weather conditions. but really the message to folks today is to take it slow, allow extra time for your travels today. Ways that folks can enhance their customer experience is to use real-time passenger information so they will know exactly when the bus will arrive. They can access that via their smartphone or on our website, cdta.org. They can also access that on Google maps."

In the Hudson Valley, Central Hudson's John Maserjian says the utility is seeing extensive damage throughout its service territory, with Dutchess, Greene and Ulster counties hardest hit.   "Every one of our employees are involved in either directly restoring power or in providing support services. We've also reached out to utilities at Hydro Quebec and we're expecting crews from that region to reach the mid-Hudson Valley later today to assist in the power restoration efforts, and we're also seeking additional help from other utilities that may be able to spare crews  to help us in our restoration efforts., This is a serious storm, the heavy wet snow combined with the strong wind gusts have toppled trees and limbs onto powerlines. We're seeing widespread outages and we anticipate that this is going to be a multi-day effort in restoring power to everyone. We're assessing the damage. We have crews out working now."

Maserjian notes that as of mid-morning at least 25,000 customers had no power and additional outages were expected. 

Consolidated Edison spokesperson Allan Drury says forecasts for Westchester County and New York City were for some "pretty nasty weather."   "...and that's what we're seeing. We call this a 'triple threat storm' because of the snow, rain and wind. So far we're getting a snow-rain mix this morning, the wind not too severe yet but we're expecting it to pick up. This has some impact on our system but nothing that we can't manage. As of late this morning we were working to restore power to about 1200 customers, most of those in Westchester county and the rest scattered throughout the five boroughs of New York City."

Drury says stay away from and immediately report downed wires.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo late Thursday announced that the State Emergency Operations Center was being activated along with Regional Emergency Operations Centers in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Binghamton, Albany, Westchester County, New York City and Long Island. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker activated 200 National Guard members to help with the storm.

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