When snowstorms are forecasted for Westchester and the surrounding region, residents should take precautions to prepare for hazardous weather that could include potential power outages, being snowed in at home, and other inconveniences caused by vast amounts of snow and possibly, ice.

If you depend on public transportation, be sure to stay on top of Beeline Bus schedule alerts. You can also sign up to receive e-mail updates.

For the Bee-Line Snow Report, listen to or watch:

WBNR 1260 AM
WLNA 1420 AM
WVOX 1460 AM
News 12
News 12 Traffic & Weather Cablevision Channel 61

The Department of Emergency Services offers these tips when heavy snowfalls:

  • Shovel snow in moderation, particularly if you have any medical condition or you do not exercise regularly.
  • It is the responsibility of the property owner to clear the sidewalk in front of that property.
  • Do not shovel snow from driveways and sidewalks into the street.
  • Most fire hydrants are covered by snow. If you can, please shovel out the snow around hydrants near your property.
  • Before driving, clear snow from vehicle windows and roofs.
  • Check on elderly and disabled relatives, neighbors, and friends.
  • Do not walk behind plow vehicles; it is difficult for plow operators to see you.
  • Be on the lookout for falling ice and snow from roofs and gutters.
  • A lot of heavy snow and ice has accumulated on roofs. Do not stand under structures that are not well-supported.
  • If you have no heat or hot water in rental apartments, call your local building department or, during after hours, the local police.
  • Remember to be prepared before your power goes out; it will be too later after it goes out.

Do I call 911 or 211?
Please do not call 911 for non-emergencies, such as information or to complain about snow removal issues. You may call the 2-1-1 helpline for nonemergencies.

Cold Weather Tips
When temperatures start dropping below freezing and the wind chill factor adds to the frigid cold, here are tips to staying warm inside and outside and what to do if someone is negatively affected by the cold.

Inside your home:

  • Maintain a room temperature of at least 68 degrees during the day and evening and 63 degrees overnight.
  • It is dangerous to use an oven as a heating device to warm your home. All space heaters are a fire risk if used improperly.
  • Be aware of the elderly and disabled living alone. Offer assistance.

Outside:

  • Wear layers of warm dry clothing. Dressing in several layers of loose-fitting clothing will create pockets of insulating warm air. Wet clothing negates the insulating effect so stay dry.
  • Wear wool or fleece fabrics, not cotton as it dries slowly; warm socks with a thermal sock liner; comfortable, closed shoes; a scarf, hat and earmuffs to prevent loss of body heat; a water repellent, a hooded outer garment to add extra protection; and mittens instead of gloves to keep hands warm.
  • Cover exposed skin surfaces as protection from frostbite.
  • Walk around or move in place to increase circulation and generate additional body heat.
  • Seek shelter indoors periodically to warm up.

Cold Weather Dangers and Warning Signs:

  • Be aware of hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, stiff muscles, puffy face, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If any of these signs are recognized, seek medical attention immediately or call 911.
  • Frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by exposure to extreme cold. Warning signs include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose. To treat frostbite, warm the affected areas gradually by wrapping or placing them next to warm skin. Do not rub the affected areas.
  • Drink warm, non-alcoholic beverages like tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and soup. Drinking alcohol will cause a loss of body heat by dilating blood vessels.
  • Maintain good nutrition and get plenty of rest.
  • Prescription drugs may increase vulnerability to cold. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.

From November - March, Westchester County maintains warming centers for single individuals seeking shelter from the cold. Families seeking shelter after hours or during weekends should contact DSS Emergency Services at (914) 995-2099.

Many residents of Westchester County have experienced the damages that flooding can produce.

It's important to remember that Spring is the time of year when flooding can occur quickly and without much warning. Spring rains and winter snow and ice thaws can cause flooding and affect homes, property, and, most importantly, personal safety.

Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the US
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States and can happen anywhere. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's How to Prepare for a Flood explains how to protect yourself and your property, and details the steps to take now so that you can act quickly when you, your home, or your business is in danger.

Selected recent high impact flood events

  • Aug. 12-13, 2014: Historic Long Island freshwater flash flooding
  • Oct. 29, 2012:Historic NY/NJ Storm Surge coastal flooding with Super Storm Sandy
  • Aug. 28, 2011: Record NJ/NY/CT freshwater river flooding with Hurricane Irene

To monitor real-time water levels across the local area, go to the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service. (Change the Auto Refresh tab to ON for real-time monitoring.)

Also, visit Weather-Ready Nation Flood Safety for more information from the National Weather Service about staying safe, protecting property, and enhancing the economy.

Terms to know

Flood or Flash Flood Watch: Indicates that flooding or flash flooding will occur within a few hours of heavy rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or water is being released from an ice jam.

Flood or Flash Flood Warning: Inundation of a normally dry area near a stream or other watercourse, or unusually severe ponding of water has been reported or is imminent.

Hurricane season has begun. If you live in an area susceptible to hurricanes, the time to prepare for a hurricane disaster is before it hits. As with any severe weather, be sure to watch and follow the weather reports, especially those of the National Weather Service, and follow the suggested precautions below.

Review disaster plans with your family
It is important that you review disaster plans with your family in the event you are not all in the same place at the time of the hurricane. Once alerted by emergency officials, your family must understand that they have to act on those plans too. Preparation and action are two criticial keys to weather safety.

Be sure your family is prepared for hurricanes and tropical storms - as for any kind of severe weather.

Download the Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide to learn more about hurricanes and hurricane preparedness and as a reference to share with your family.

Find out if your home is located in a hurricane evacuation zone, then read the definitions below to understand the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning.

Hurricane Watch
A Hurricane Watch is issued when hurricane conditions are a real possibility for the area within 24-36 hours. What you should do:

  • Monitor storm's progress on radio or TV.
  • Get a battery-powered radio and flashlight.
  • Make sure you have sufficient canned food, first aid supplies, drinking water and medication on hand.
  • Fuel your car.

Residents in low-lying areas should also:

  • Plan an evacuation route and destination and be prepared to evacuate upon the recommendation of local officials.
  • Know how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity in your home.
  • Secure credit cards and cash. Check your "Go Bag."
  • Make plans to care for your pets because they are not allowed into public shelters for health reasons.

Hurricane Warning
A Hurricane Warning is issued when a hurricane is expected within 24 hours. Begin precautionary action at once. What you should do:

  • Follow instructions issued by local officials. They will inform you if you have to evacuate.
  • Make arrangements for the elderly and others with special needs.
  • Secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Moor any boats securely.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • If conditions are expected to be severe, protect your windows with boards, shutters, or tape.
  • Know who to call if your power goes out.
  • Plan an evacuation route and destination.

If you live in a low-lying coastal area, you may be directed to evacuate. If so, comply immediately.

  • Make arrangements to stay with friends or family outside the affected area whenever possible.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so.
  • If necessary, bring clothing, bedding, bathing and sanitary supplies, medications and your "Go Bag."

There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Just remember, When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors. Too many people wait far too long to get to a safe place when thunderstorms approach. Unfortunately, these delayed actions lead to many lightning deaths and injuries in the United States. The National Weather Service has prepared tips on how to stay safe indoors and outdoors as well as brochures and other tools to teach lightning safety.

Flooding
Flash floods can strike any time and any place with little or no warning. In flat terrain, distant rain may be channeled into gullies and ravines.

During a major rainstorm, many of Westchester's parkways and roadways may become flooded. Observe these flood safety rules. They could save your life.

  • Keep alert for signs of heavy rain (thunder and lightning), both where you are and upstream. Watch for rising water levels.
  • Know where high ground is and get there quickly if you see or hear rapidly rising water.
  • Be especially cautious at night. It’s harder to recognize the danger then.
  • Do not attempt to cross flowing water which may be more than knee-deep. If you have doubts, don’t cross.
  • Do not try to drive through flooded areas.
  • If your vehicle stalls in a flooded area, abandon it and seek higher ground immediately.
  • During threatening weather listen to commercial radio or TV, or NOAA Weather Radio for Watch and Warning Bulletins.


Hurricanes
Westchester County is vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms with its extensive coastline along the Long Island Sound and Hudson River. These storms, powered by heat from the sea, carry winds of at least 74 miles per hour and can cause extensive damage, especially to low-lying coastal areas.

While hurricanes are relatively rare to Westchester, some times a tropical storm can pack a lot of punch as well. High winds and torrential rains can cause heavy flooding and fallen trees and power lines. Residents throughout the county, especially those living in coastal communities, should have an emergency plan and know what they would do if an evacuation of the area were necessary.

Hurricane winds blow in a large spiral around a relative calm center known as the “eye.” The eye of the storm is generally 20 to 30 miles wide, while the storm itself may extend outward 400 miles. A single hurricane can last for more than two weeks over open waters and can run a path across the entire length of the eastern seaboard. August and September are peak months during the hurricane season that lasts from June 1 through Nov. 30.

In advance of a hurricane, it is important that you:

  • If you live near the Long Island Sound or the Hudson River, know your property's elevation above means sea level.
  • Have a safe evacuation route planned.
  • Learn the storm surge history for your area.


Hurricane Watch
Hurricane conditions pose a possible threat to your area. In especially vulnerable areas, early evacuation may be necessary when a Watch is issued. Otherwise, you should review hurricane safety procedures and make preparations. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio and commercial radio and television for the latest information and instructions for your location.

Hurricane Warning
Hurricane conditions are expected in your area within 24 hours. Begin precautionary action at once. When your area receives a hurricane warning:

  • Follow instructions issued by local officials. They will inform you if you have to evacuate.
  • Make arrangements for the elderly and others with special needs.
  • Secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Moor any boats securely.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • If conditions are expected to be severe, protect your windows with boards, shutters, or tape.
  • Know who to call if your power goes out.
  • Plan an evacuation route and destination.


Remember: Latest storm-related information will be available on NOAA Weather Radio and commercial radio and television. Do not tie up telephone lines by calling local officials or the National Weather Service. Listen carefully to broadcasters serving your immediate area.

When severe weather threatens Westchester, stay informed through weather updates either on the radio, TV, or online with the National Weather Service. When power is lost be prepared with a battery-operated radio or crank radio. It's important to stay tuned to important weather updates and in the event, an evacuation of your neighborhood is announced.

County and State traffic conditions
You may want to check on major highway conditions across the county by visiting www.511ny.org. This site provides reports on roads across the county as well as state-wide. It details closures, incidents, and other helpful traffic and transit conditions.

Important phone numbers

Jot down, and keep in a handy place, important phone numbers well before you lose power or a serious storm arises. Here are some phone numbers you may want to have at your fingertips:

  • First and foremost --Do not call 911 for non-emergencies
  • An alternative contact number is United Way's 211 HelpLine
  • ConEd power outage or gas and electrical service problems: (800) 75-CONED
  • NYSEG electricity power outage: (800) 572-1131 (Check outages in your area.)
  • NYSEG natural gas power outage : (800) 572-1121
  • County Parkways: Call the county police at (914) 864-7700 for the latest county parkway conditions
  • Local road conditions: Call your local police or highway department. Look up the numbers now and add them to your list.
  • Thruway: (800)-THRUWAY for updated NY state thruway information
  • Bee-Line Buses: (914) 813-7777 for bus service status or (914) 995-7272 and press 2 at the prompt, for paratransit status
  • Airline arrivals: Call the carrier directly or for real-time flight information go to the Westchester County Airport.
  • Metro-North Railroad: (800) METRO INFO
  • School closings and delays: WFAS storm center, News 12 or WCBS radio
  • No heat or no hot water in rental apartments: Call your local building department or, during after hours, the local police department.