ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Widespread power outages triggered by 60-mph wind gusts, waves topping 20 feet on Lake Ontario and rainfall totals of up to 6 inches are forecast for upstate New York as a megastorm roars across the region Monday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo told local emergency response officials around the state Sunday that there will be "very high wind for a very long period of time" when Hurricane Sandy collides with a wintry storm moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic.
The National Weather Service has posted high wind warnings and flood watches across the state, effective Monday morning through Tuesday. Most areas are expected to get one to three inches of rain; parts of the Catskills could get as much as six inches.
Scores of schools in the eastern half of upstate New York have canceled classes or are closing early ahead of the violent weather. Most of the closures are in the Hudson Valley, where forecasters say wind gusts could top 50 mph in some areas later Monday. Other districts in northern and central New York are sending students home late Monday morning or early in the afternoon, and many have canceled after-school activities.
The weather service says areas along Lake Erie's eastern shore can expect gale-force winds and 10- to 15-foot waves Monday night, while waves on Lake Ontario will build to 16 to 22 feet along the western New York shoreline.
At Hoak's Restaurant overlooking Lake Erie in Hamburg, outside Buffalo, owner Patrick Hoak and his staff spent the weekend boarding up windows and installing storm shutters to prevent damage.
"It'll be a protected building when it does hit, and we'll do everything in our power to protect the building," he told Buffalo's YNN cable television news.
State officials have lowered water levels along the Erie Canal to winter levels to lessen the chance of flooding.