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Windstorm causes closures, thousands of power outages across New York state

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 2/25/2019 Sean Lahman and Mary Chao

a close up of a map: Wind gust forecast © Provided by USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc. Wind gust forecast ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A dangerous windstorm in western New York Sunday has caused travel restrictions, closures and thousands to lose power as wind gusts are blowing faster than 62 miles per hour.

Here is the latest information on storm-related closures and resources available to those affected by the storm.

Residents are urged to avoid unnecessary travel starting at 1 p.m. Sunday due to high winds. The latest briefing from the National Weather Service continues to forecast peak wind gusts in excess of 70 mph during the mid-afternoon. Residents should continue to heed this no unnecessary travel advisory until further notice, Cheryl Dinolfo, Monroe County executive said.

“Winds this intense can cause significant damage and power outages, creating dangerous driving conditions for all motorists. Unless you must travel, please remain safe and sound at home," Dinolfo said in a statement.

The advisory does not restrict travel.  It is, however, a warning to motorists that hazardous driving conditions will exist throughout the afternoon.

Local preparation and shelters

Shelters will open as necessary in western New York. Recalling the 2017 windstorm, the shelters brought together people from all ages and backgrounds, Dinolfo said, adding that there's no stigma in going to a shelter. People make new friends and there's a camaraderie when it comes to neighbors helping neighbors out, she said.

a screen shot of a video game: Monroe County Emergency Operations Center © Mary Chao Monroe County Emergency Operations Center

Police overtime is also anticipated, with emergency command centers set to operate if necessary.   

More: Wild weather weekend: Blizzard, tornadoes, floods, ferocious winds all expected

Emergency Shelter will open as needed

The David F. Gantt R-Center will be available as a warming center and temporary warming shelter for those impacted by the windstorm. A city spokesperson said the center will open at 9 a.m. Sunday, and remain open around the clock for as long as it is needed. 

"The Gantt Center is open for anyone needing shelter or assistance. Rochester is no stranger to major storms - and if and when the power does go out, the greatest resource we have is each other," Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said Sunday. 

The National Weather Service in Buffalo has issued a high-wind warning to parts of 16 upstate New York counties; flooding along the eastern ends of lakes Erie and Ontario is likely to follow

Contributing: Justin Murphy, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Follow Sean Lahman and Mary Chao on Twitter: @seanlahman, @marychaostyle

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Windstorm causes closures, thousands of power outages across New York state

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