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Nuisance storm forecast to become dangerous overnight; authorities prepare

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – In like a lamb and out like a lion” is an adage that usually describes weather in March, but it accurately describes what the Tri State is experiencing now, as a killer winter storm moves through our region.

The storm’s high winds, sleet, snow and freezing rain have left 11 people dead across the central and southeastern parts of the country, where the storm has already struck.  It’s bringing some of that same fury toward the New York City Metro Area, which has emergency managers across the region monitoring conditions closely, especially as people begin holiday travel.

“Recognizing that the harsh weather as well as the increased use of roadways has the potential to cause serious inconvenience for motorists, I have directed the State’s transportation agencies to take all necessary preparations to be ready to clear roadways as quickly as possible,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a news conference Tuesday.  “While the State will be working around the clock during this storm to help keep our roadways free of snow and ice, I urge drivers to use extreme caution, put safety first, and plan accordingly to avoid roadways during poor weather.”

For most of the New York Metro Area, the storm will be a rain and wind event, but those atmospheric conditions will be heavy.  Winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour, and up to four inches of rain are forecast overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday, one of the year’s biggest travel days.  To put that in perspective, the Tri State has had less than four inches of rainfall over the last 10 weeks.

At places like the Bergen County Emergency Operations Center in Mahwah, managers told PIX11 News that they were keeping a close eye on warnings and advisories from the National Weather Service.  No emergency personnel have been deployed, but they are on standby.

The situation is similar at New York City’s Office of Emergency Management.  A spokesperson there said that not only are managers keeping tabs on rain and wind conditions generally, they’re paying close attention to forecasted wind speeds for Thursday morning — the time of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Sustained winds of 23 miles per hour or greater, or gusts measuring higher than 34 miles per hour will ground the parade’s iconic balloons.

The wind may combine with another trapping of the season to cause flooding problems in the area.  Autumn leaves are on the ground throughout the region, and a stiff wind could easily send them into street gutters where, in the expected rainstorms, they could block drains and cause local flooding.

Homeowner Randy Roger of Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey was using his leaf blower Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to stay ahead of the problem when PIX11 encountered him.  He admitted that once the weather intensifies, there’s little anyone can do until conditions calm back down.

“It’s going to blow stuff around a little bit,” Roger told PIX11 News.  “No way around that.”