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Officials offer tips for dealing with stormy weather

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says the city has a plan is in place and city crews are ready to deal with the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

You can see the storm's track here.

Brown says rain predictions have dropped, meaning there is less potential for overall flooding. But high winds could cause power outages, so the mayor is encouraging residents to prepare.      

"Please use caution, reach out to neighbors, friends, or others who may need assistance, and obey all signs advising of road closures and other conditions when driving. Call 9-1-1 if you have any emergency," Brown said at a Monday afternoon news briefing.

The mayor also encourages people to have working flashlights, extra water, and to stay clear of any downed power lines.

The storm is expected to impact the Buffalo area hardest between 8 p.m. Monday and 2 a.m. Tuesday. 

The City of Buffalo is asking residents to use a rake or shovel to clear storm sewer grates along the curbs to allow for better drainage. Residents in flood-prone areas are reminded to move items off of basement floors and to be sure sump pumps are in working order.

Brown says so far there are no plans to close schools, but he says the superintendent is monitoring the situation.

Monday morning's commute was accompanied by windy and rainy conditions. National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Hamilton says the afternoon drive home is expected to be similar.

"Probably the rain will be steadier with a little bit heavier rain by drivetime in the afternoon with winds 15-25 mph," Hamilton said.

A flood watch is now in effect through Tuesday morning.  A lakeshore flood warning is posted from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. Tuesday for Niagara, Orleans, and Chautauqua Counties. A high wind warning is in effect from 5 p.m. until 2 p.m. Tuesday.

National Grid began emergency preparations a week ago in anticipation of the storm's impact on the region.  Strong, gusty winds and high waves along the Lake Erie & Ontario shorelines could cause power outages.

Spokesman Steve Brady says the biggest concern is tree damage from severe winds, which will come from the north-northeast direction,  unlike the typical south-southwest.

"We actually set our poles with the prevailing winds in mind. A lot will depend on the strength or the winds, how long they blow, and the amount of moisture we get, because the ground is starting to get pretty soft," Brady told WBFO News.

Residents are encouraged to notify National Grid if their power goes out. The number to call is 1-800-867-5222. 

All in-house crews from this region have remained in Western New York to assist with emergency repairs.

Various local agencies are offering tips on how to handle the storm.

The AAA of Western and Central New York reminds motorists to allow extra space when following another vehicle, as stopping distances increase on wet pavement. Drivers should also avoid high or standing water, which could result in loss of control or short circuiting of electrical components.

First responders everywhere urge people to consider any downed power line live.

The American Red Cross and Salvation Army are preparing shelters and volunteers in case they are needed in Western New York or in other areas affected by the storm.

Mark Wozniak, WBFO's local All Things Considered host, has been at WBFO since mid-1978.