December 23, 2020 — The New York City Emergency Management Department today advised New Yorkers to prepare for gusty winds that may affect the city beginning Thursday evening. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a High Wind Warning in effect for New York City from 6 p.m. Thursday, December 24 through 9 a.m. Friday, December 25. Strong winds move into the area on Thursday afternoon, with sustained speeds of 20 mph to 30 mph and gusts up to 60 mph. These conditions could lead to property damage and scattered power outages. They may also make travel difficult, especially for large vehicles like trucks, vans, and SUVs. Drivers of these large vehicles should exercise extreme caution.
In addition to the strong winds, heavy rain is in the forecast Thursday night through Friday morning. NWS has issued a Flood Watch for the city beginning 11 p.m. Thursday through 11 a.m. Friday. Light showers develop Thursday afternoon and will intensify in the evening and continue into Friday morning. The rain will taper off by mid-morning, but a lingering shower is possible. Urban flooding may occur in low-lying and poor drainage areas. Flash flooding cannot be ruled out during the periods of heaviest rain. A total of 2.0 to 2.5 inches of rain is in the forecast, with locally higher amounts possible. New Yorkers are advised to exercise extreme caution if traveling during this period.
“Anyone dreaming of a white Christmas will have to settle for a windy and soggy holiday. However, the hazards are real and we want every New Yorker to prepare for the potentially damaging winds and heavy rain. Bring in any loose, lightweight objects like garbage cans, potted plants, or lawn furniture that can be easily blown away,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell. “Driving large vehicles like vans and SUVs may be difficult, and we advise you to give yourself extra travel time and exercise caution if you must go out during this time.”
NYC Emergency Management is working closely with NWS to monitor the system’s track to determine any impacts to the city. The City’s Flash Flood Emergency Plan has been activated to ensure a quick, effective, and coordinated response to any flash flooding incident. The plan is activated when it is forecast to rain one inch per hour for the duration of an hour or longer. Additionally, the City’s Downed Tree Task Force has been placed on alert. This multi-agency task force is responsible for coordinating the response to a large downed tree incident. Tree damage often occurs during inclement weather, and severe storms can cause extensive damage. New Yorkers should report tree issues to 311 or on NYC Parks’ site. In a life or death emergency call 911 immediately.
The Department of Buildings (DOB) has issued a weather advisory to remind property owners, contractors, and crane operators to take precautionary measures and secure their construction sites, buildings, and equipment during high winds expected. 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. For more information, visit NYC.gov/Buildings.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued an advisory to all contractors and government agencies and is advising open restaurant owners to secure their outdoor furniture and be prepared to take down umbrellas and tents due to the inclement weather. If owners have general questions or need more support regarding re-opening a business, please contact the New York City Department of Small Business Services at 888-SBS-4NYC or 888-727-4692.
- 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.
- 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.
- Do not use generators indoors.
- Avoid driving, walking, or biking through flooded areas. As few as six inches of moving water can knock a person over. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling. One or two feet of water can carry away a vehicle.
- Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
- If you see downed electrical wires, do not go near them. Never attempt to move or touch them with any object. Be mindful that tree limbs, leaves, or water can cover downed wires from view. Always stay away from downed power lines because they could be live.
New Yorkers are encouraged to sign up for Notify NYC, the City’s free emergency communications program, for the latest information and updates on this storm and emergency events in NYC. To sign up for Notify NYC, download the free mobile application, visit NYC.gov/NotifyNYC, call 311, or follow @NotifyNYC on Twitter. For more severe weather information, visit NYC.gov/SevereWeather.