By Alex P. Vidal
“The more violent the storm, the quicker it passes.”— Paulo Coelho
TWO hours after the effectivity of New YorK Governor Kathy Hochul’s declaration of a State of Emergency for the entire State of New York, I would be on the streets.
From the Upper Manhattan’s East 68 Street and Park Avenue, I would walk for some 30 to 45 minutes going to the Midtown Manhattan’s East First Street and 51st Avenue.
Hochul’s State of Emergency started at six o’clock in the morning on December 23 (Friday). I would hit the street at eight o’clock in the morning and have my own taste of the “once in a generation storm” as what weather forecasters have been drumbeating since December 21.
A subway train from the 68th Hunter College station to the 51st and Lexington Avenue station could shorten my trip, but I still needed to walk to reach my destination. Another option was to take a yellow cab or Uber, something I haven’t done and would not do in the Big Apple—unless it’s a matter of life and death.
According to weather forecast, the major storm will bring heavy rain and flooding to New York City ahead of coldest Christmas in years.
“We’re on Red Alert with a storm expected to bring heavy rain and gusty winds, followed by a sharp drop in temperatures,” screamed the CBS New York. “It comes as millions of people are traveling for Christmas weekend. Gov. Kathy Hochul has declared a state of emergency in New York.”
By 8:22 in the evening December 22 (Thursday) as I wrote this article, CBS New York reported that “there is rain, wind and a threat of flooding ahead of the Christmas holiday.”
A state of emergency goes into effect for New York and Gov. Phil Murphy announced all New Jersey state offices will be closed Friday.
The winds were getting stronger, and it was getting wetter and chillier in Ridgefield, New Jersey on Thursday night. Drivers at the Vince Lombardi Service Area were rushing in to get what they need, added CBS New York.
Hochul’s move was a preparation in advance of a significant winter weather system forecast to bring a mixed bag of hazards across the state beginning December 22 (Thursday) evening and continuing through December 26 (Monday).
Heavy rain and snow, strong winds, coastal and lakeshore flooding and flash freezing are all possible in various regions across the state throughout the holiday weekend.
In addition, lake effect snow is expected to impact areas along Lakes Erie and Ontario beginning December 23 night and continuing into December 26 with total snow accumulations forecast to reach up to three feet.
“With Mother Nature throwing everything she has at us this weekend, I encourage New Yorkers who are considering traveling for the holidays to do so before Friday or after Sunday to stay safe,” Governor Hochul said. “Our agencies are well prepared, coordinated and ready to deploy assets and equipment if needed to respond to the storm. We want all New Yorkers to get where they need to go safely to celebrate the holidays with loved ones.”
December 22 into 23F, rain, snow showers and strong winds are forecast for most of the state with rainfall amounts of up to three inches possible in some places.
Moderate to major coastal flooding (1-2 feet) is possible December 23 morning due to rain and strong winds, and lakeshore flooding up to three feet above flood stage is possible off Lake Erie and Lake Ontario due to rain, snowmelt and strong winds.
Starting December 23 and continuing into December 25 (Saturday) morning, much of the state is expected to see strong winds up to 60 miles per hour or more as temperatures will drop quickly and significantly, by more than 35 degrees in some regions, causing flash freezing, below zero wind chills and icy road conditions.
This will reportedly impact the December 23 morning commute in Western New York and the evening commute for the rest of the state. Winds on Friday and Saturday will be strong enough to cause downed trees and power lines.
Friday night and continuing through Monday, lake effect snow will reportedly impact areas off Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and strong winds are expected to cause blowing and drifting snow with near zero visibility and localized blizzard conditions.
The Buffalo and Watertown areas could reportedly see up to three feet of snow through Sunday night. Below normal, freezing temperatures with low wind chills are expected to persist through Monday for upstate regions.
Hochul urged New Yorkers to take all necessary precautions, if traveling this week, and plan ahead for significant weather impacts.
Blizzard Warnings, Coastal Flood Warnings, Lakeshore Flood Warnings, High Wind Warnings, Wind Chill Warnings, and Winter Storm Warnings are all in effect this weekend throughout various counties across the state, according to the National Weather Service.
Merry Christmas to everyone.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)