In the wake of last year's Tropical Storm Irene, which wreaked havoc on Adirondack communities like Keene and Jay, officials aren't taking any chances with a hurricane that could hit the Northeast early next week.
For the North Country, forecasters warn of wind, rain and possible flooding.
On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to track Hurricane Sandy's progress as it makes its way north from the Caribbean. The storm could collide with a cold front from the north to bring high winds, heavy rain and snow to New York and New England.
"I have directed state agencies and New York's emergency operations personnel to begin preparations now for the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy," Cuomo said in a press release. "I urge all New Yorkers to closely track the storm's path, using local radio and television or online reports. We will actively monitor the storm's progress and take any steps necessary to protect our state's residents."
Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish told the Enterprise that as of Thursday, he had sat in on several meetings and teleconferences in advance of the potential storm. He said the storm is being called a "powerful Nor'easter" and a "hybrid storm," and it's path has shifted to the west.
"It could make landfall on Cape Cod or Jersey Shore - they don't really know - on Tuesday," Jaquish said. "The storm is still several days off, and we just don't know the severity. I do expect that we'll see some rain from this storm. The question is its path: If it goes to the east, it goes off shore, no big problems. If it turns west, then we've got some problems.
"It's like Irene: It's hard to predict up until the last day or so where it's going."
Jaquish said emergency officials across the North Country are "gearing up." He said 911 dispatchers, fire chiefs, deputy emergency coordinators have all been notified that they may be needed if the storm hits hard.
Some equipment, like generators, has been "pre-positioned," Jaquish said.
"We're preparing for the worst and hoping for the best," he said.
North Country residents are being urged to make the necessary preparations. Jaquish said homeowners should make sure sump-pumps and drains are working, and that valuables are stored in safe, dry places.
He also said people should secure loose debris and make sure homes are stocked with three days of food, as well as flashlights and batteries in the event of an extended power outage.
"We're not saying it's going to flood, but prevention is worth a pound of cure," he said.
In an interview with the Enterprise earlier this week, Andy Nash, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Burlington, Vt., said if Hurricane Sandy hits the Northeast, its remnants will mix with the expected cold front over northern New Jersey, New York City and southern New England and then move west and north.
"If that scenario were to happen, we would be looking at a lot of heavy rain for Vermont and northern New York, and probably a good deal of wind, especially in the higher terrain on the west side of the Green Mountains here in Vermont and in some of those areas in northern New York that are prone to east winds," Nash said. "If there's strong east winds, there's some local areas that get really blasted. The worst conditions would be farther south."
Nash noted that the North Country and Vermont have seen a lot of rain in recent weeks, meaning that additional heavy rains could turn into runoff and result in flooding.
On Thursday, Paul Sisson, another meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Burlington, Vt., said there was still a lot of uncertainty as to the exact track of the storm. He said it's tough to know exactly when the North Country might begin feeling the storm's effects.
"There could be some showers around over the weekend," Sisson said. "The main storm coming up from the south would be sometime between like late Sunday into late Monday. Again, the timing depends on whether it comes straight up the coast at us or whether it takes a jog out to see and comes back in."
Cuomo said New Yorkers should pay "close attention to TV and radio for the latest information on the storm and especially for Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages that carry local emergency orders, such as evacuation or travel restrictions."
Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.