Winter Storm Affecting All NYS Regions

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued Winter Storm Watches, Warnings, and Advisories for many regions of New York State as a major winter storm on January 6 and 7, 2024, will likely result in hazardous conditions for many residents and travelers.

Significant amounts of heavy, wet snow and gusty winds can take down trees and power lines. Travel may become very dangerous in many New York counties. Predictions for New York City are still uncertain, and no NWS notices have yet been issued for the metropolitan area.

All providers need to plan for risky weather conditions and difficult travel on Saturday and Sunday, with the heaviest accumulations (1 to 2 inches per hour) likely to be in the overnight hours on Saturday, January 6.


These weather hazards multiply the risks to vulnerable individuals in Western NY who are preparing for planned power outages on Saturday. See HCP’s Emergency Management website for our notice about that situation. The notice includes a list of warming stations; note that several were added to the list after this week’s HCP Insider went to press.

NWS Watches, Warnings, and Advisories are listed in chronological order based on their issuance and vary widely by region. As of this writing, all are in effect through Sunday evening. Find your region and click on the notice for more detailed information.

Visit the National Weather Service for NYS and click on the map for current conditions and predictions for your specific area. This link centers on Albany and the surrounding areas, so use the ZOOM feature to the right of the map to expand it.

Guidance for Home Care Providers

Always refer to Department of Health (DOH/then Department) guidance for emergency management instructions. The HCP Emergency Preparedness Webpage contains the following resources:

  • The Department’s General Winter Storm Season document
  • Power outage resources
  • The roster of contacts for all NYS DOH Divisions

Note that Health Electronic Response Data System (HERDS) surveys may be conducted to capture important information regarding an organization’s status during an emergency.

DOH guidance urges home care providers to review patient care needs and ensure Level 1 cases are visited before the storm begins. Remind all patients of important contacts in the event of power outages and/or medical emergencies. Provide patients with the phone number of the local Office of Emergency Management (OEM). They can contact their OEM if life-threatening power outages are a concern.

Staff and patients should have ample supplies to cover at least 24 hours before and for a 72-hour period after the weather event subsides. This includes generator fuel for those dependent on power.  Be mindful that supply deliveries can be delayed. Check on patients during and after the storm to ensure their safety and health are maintained.

Review your emergency response plan for managing situations where patients refuse to evacuate a hazardous situation.

After the storm, if travel is still difficult, agencies are advised to prioritize patients and adjust staff schedules based on proximity to assignments. Limit travel and stress staff safety.  DOH reminds providers to be prepared to contact staffing services to cover cases if necessary.

HCP advises providers to always track emergency-related expenses. If funding is provided, only documented costs can be recouped.

DOH Guidance for All Providers

Consult and review your agency’s emergency response and evacuation plan as soon as possible, and be prepared to activate the plan if necessary. For weather events, pay particular attention to:

  • Redundant communication methods
  • Staff notifications and alerts
  • Supplies and assistance for stranded workers
  • Adequate staff coverage for patient needs through the storm recovery period
  • Emergency power

During business hours, report issues and support needs to the local DOH regional office and to your local Office of Emergency Management (OEM). After hours, contact the local OEM and the DOH Duty Officer phone line at 866-881-2809.

HCS Emergency Applications

DOH reminds providers that the Health Commerce System (HCS) is used for critical communications and data collection during emergencies. Be sure staff HCS accounts are up-to-date and active. Access to the following HCS applications is crucial:

  • The HCS Communications Directory
  • The Health Electronic Response Data System (HERDS)
  • eFINDS Patient and Resident Tracking application (for facilities)

More Information

HCP cautions providers to only use reliable sources for weather forecasts. Social media sites and any web pages supported by commercial sponsors and ads are not accurate enough for emergency planning purposes.

The National Weather Service provides up-to-the-minute predictions on which you can rely to best care for your patients and ensure staff safety. Larger organizations might consider contracting with a private weather service such as AccuWeather.