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Freeze, thaw, repeat

Winds expected to bring more bone-chilling weather

Tuesday, January 7, 2014
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The Mohawk in Amsterdam is covered in ice on Monday.
The Mohawk in Amsterdam is covered in ice on Monday.

— Freezing cold temperatures are once again taking over the Capital Region.

A wind chill advisory is in effect for the region until 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Albany. The high temperature for today is expected to reach only the mid-teens, with the low around 5 degrees.

Coupled with 15- to 25-mph winds, wind chills of minus-15 degrees will be felt in some parts of the Capital Region, and some areas will have wind chills even lower, according to the National Weather Service.

Bridge Christian Church in Schenectady has opened a warming center, complete with free hot chocolate, coffee and cookies, to try and help people cope with the cold.

“We decided to do it because of the extreme, bone-chilling cold weather,” the Rev. James Bookhout said. “We are a church that reaches out to the community.”

In addition to the warming center, the church is offering winter coats, clothing and a food pantry for those in need. Brita Bookhout, the pastor’s wife, said she often sees people walking to work in Schenectady and passing by the church. She hopes everyone in the community takes advantage of the center, even if only for a few minutes.

National Grid is also preparing for the cold weather and how it may affect its customers. Spokesman Patrick Stella said National Grid holds several storm drills each year to test its emergency response plan and make sure it’s ready for the “real thing.”

“That said, windy weather can cause electric outages,” he said. “First thing for our customers to do is to be prepared. Have an emergency kit and have plans for an alternative place to stay in case of a prolonged outage.”

National Grid provides a number of channels for customers to get more information about service issues and outages during storms. Customers can receive text-message alerts and updates through a free service the company offers and also get updates online at the National Grid website. There is also an app available for mobile devices, and customers can text the word STORM to NGRID (64743) to sign up for the service. Email alerts are also available to customers who create an online profile on the company’s website. And National Grid provides storm and restoration updates through Facebook and Twitter.

Many local schools are anticipating the freezing temperatures by canceling after-school activities and sporting events. Section II postponed its Nordic cross-country ski meet for today, according to John Broderick, a parent on a small board of directors that oversees the Section II Nordic teams.

“It is really a safety issue,” he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thruway closures in Western New York on Monday because of extreme winter weather conditions between the Buffalo area and Pennsylvania. The Thruway between Exit 55 and Exit 61 was closed to commercial vehicles starting at 3 p.m. on Monday. The forecast in Western New York includes 36 inches of snow over the next few days, lake-effect snows in some areas up to 4 inches per hour, wind gusts up to 40 mph and wind chills as low as minus-40 degrees. The Thruway in that area will be reopened when conditions allow.

“In addition, all New Yorkers in the area should exercise extreme caution if they have to leave their homes or travel anywhere,” Cuomo said. “These precautions are done to ensure the safety of motorists, and I urge Western New Yorkers to monitor the weather and follow any instructions issued by emergency officials.”

Tips from National Grid

National Grid offers the following tips for customers to minimize inconvenience and maximize safety in the event that storm-related power interruptions occur:

•Never touch downed power lines and always assume that any fallen lines are live wires. If you see one, report it immediately to National Grid or your local emergency response organization.

•If you use a generator to supply power during an outage, be sure to only operate it outdoors. Before operating generators, be sure to disconnect from National Grid’s system by shutting off the main breaker located in the electric service panel. Failure to do this could jeopardize crew safety.

•If you lose power, turn off any appliances that were on when the power went off, but leave one light on so you will know when power is restored.

•Power problems can sometimes interrupt public water supply systems or disable well pumps, so it’s an especially good idea to keep a supply of bottled drinking water handy, as well as some canned food.

• People who depend on electric-powered life-support equipment, such as a respirator, should let National Grid know. To register as a life-support customer, call the company’s customer service center at 1-800-642-4272.

• National Grid customers who experience outages should call National Grid’s outage line at 1-800-867-5222 immediately to expedite restoration.

• Check on elderly family members, neighbors and others who may need assistance during an outage period.

 
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