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Utility crews ready to respond to wind storm damage

A High Wind Warning is now in effect across Western New York and continues through 10:00 Monday morning.

A strong low pressure system moving through the region will have sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts topping 75 mph. Those are dangerous winds that are expected to bring down trees, tree limbs and power lines. Widespread power outages are anticipated. Utilities have brought in extra crews to respond to outages. National Grid encourages customers to report outages by calling 1-800-867-5222. New York State Electric and Gas wants customers to report outages at its website nyseg.com. But true electrical emergencies such as a downed power line should be immediately reported by calling 1-800-572-1121.

"When you have a high wind storm, trees break, poles break and lines come down. The question is how fast it takes to restore that power," Governor Andrew Cuomo said in Buffalo Saturday. "Frankly, in the past, I believe our utility companies have not done all they need to do to both get the recovery effort up and running quickly and to communicate the status to the utility customers.

"People understand delays. They don't understand delays when they're not given any information as to when to expect the power back," Cuomo continued. "So utility companies have promised us that they will communicate better."

There is also a Lakeshore Flood Warning until 4am Monday along the Lake Erie shoreline and Niagara River. The strong winds will increase lake levels at the Buffalo end of the lake, which could cause some flooding. The winds will also break up the ice, pushing ice chunks onshore and over the ice boom into the Niagara River.

Then, lake effect snow will develop Sunday evening. The National Weather Service has posted a winter weather advisory starting at 3:00 Sunday afternoon for much of Western New York, including Buffalo. Just one to three inches of snow will fall in Buffalo. But ski country well south could see up to six inches. The strong winds will cause blowing snow and reduced visibility.

Cuomo has banned all empty tractor trailers and tandems from portions of major highways in Western New York. This includes the State Thruway from Utica to Ripley. The Skyway closes to all traffic at 12noon.

Cuomo has activated the National Guard to assist public works crews in clearing debris.

Mayor Byron Brown said Erie Basin Marina, LaSalle Park, Broderick Park and Bird Island Pier are closed for the duration of the wind storm.

Town officials in Cheektowaga have cancelled garbage and recycling pick-ups Monday because of the strong winds. Regular service resumes Tuesday. If you live in Cheektowaga, please note there will not be a day's delay if you're scheduled for a Monday pick-up. Your next scheduled pick-up date is Monday, March 4th. Those people who have too much garbage are able to bring bags to the Sanitation garage off Broadway, but that does not apply to recyclables.

For now, garbage and recycling pick-ups will go on in Buffalo as scheduled tomorrow. But the city is asking residents not to place their totes at curbside until 7:00 Monday morning when pick-ups begin.