Please distribute on blogs and synagogue/community listserves.
NYC Emergency Management (NYCEM) is now advising New Yorkers to prepare for ongoing sustained winds upwards of 30mph with wind gusts in excess of 70mph. Most Succoth, especially in open areas or experiencing sustained gusts, are not built for such conditions.
The Rabbinical Council of America is distributing this document, developed by Rabbi Kenneth Brander with profound thanks to Rav Hershel Schachter, shlita for his guidance. The relevant portion of the document follows:
Sukkot, Shemeni Atzeret & Simchat HaTorah
- If the weather forecast is for winds of over 40 mph there is a serious danger that the sukkah will become flying debris which can create dangerous projectiles and should be dismantled before Shabbat/Yom Tov.
- If there is a concern of schach flying around (in winds that are less than 40 mph winds) then the schach can be tied down even with plastic cable ties.
- If schach needs to be replaced or tied down on the sukkah on Shabbat or Yom Tov in can be done by a Gentile.
- If there is concern about going to shul on Simchat Torah morning – Vezot ha’Berakha can be read on the night of Simchat Torah in five aliyot. Alternatively should the storm pass by Simchat Torah afternoon then hakafot and torah reading can be read at an early mincha on Simchat Torah.
Of course, individuals and organizations should consult with their appropriate halachic authorities. Some additional tips:
- Secure your Sukkah to fixed objects such as posts or fencing. Unsecured bamboo mats can become airborne, leading to injuries and property damage. Unsecured walls (either canvas or plywood) are essentially sails and could collapse and/or blow away. This is already happening in the Washington, DC area.
- Balconies. Succoth built on balconies on higher floors are subject to higher winds.
- There is a likelihood of blackouts during the storm. See the RCA document here for additional guidance. The source document with citations can be found here.
- Drying. If you do take down and secure your Sukkah over the next few days, the materials and skhakh are likely to be wet. To avoid mold, be sure to thoroughly dry everything after Sukkoth before you store it. (HT Dori Zofan).
Thanks to NYCEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito and Assistant Commissioner Ira Tannenbaum for their ongoing leadership and concern. Here is the NYCEM guidance:
The National Weather Service forecast for the next several days includes wind speeds that are predicted to be between 15 and 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 40 mph at times. High winds can down trees and power lines, blow out windows, blow down signs, cause flying debris, and structural collapse. Individuals who have constructed a Succah for the holiday should take appropriate actions to secure the structure and roofing to prevent damage or injury from flying debris.
Assistant Commissioner, Public/Private Initiatives
New York City Emergency Management
165 Cadman Plaza East
Brooklyn, NY 11201
New York City’s dense population and geographic location make it especially vulnerable to emergencies caused by natural and man-made hazards. While it is important for you to protect yourself and your families from emergencies, it is also important to protect your property. The hazards faced by Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester residents are similar, with some exceptions (e.g., Westchester planners are concerned with an Indian Point event).
The New York City Emergency Management Department, in partnership with the New York City Department of City Planning and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, is pleased to announce the launch of NYC’s Risk Landscape: A Guide to Hazard Mitigation. Based on the FEMA-approved and locally adopted 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan, NYC’s Risk Landscape focuses on a targeted group of hazards that pose a risk to the city, and includes information on how the City approaches risk management in a user-friendly and accessible format. Additionally, the guide includes informative maps, infographics, and images to help New Yorkers gain a deeper understanding of specific hazards as well as best practices in risk reduction. Hazards addressed in this guide include coastal erosion, coastal storms, earthquakes, extreme heat, flooding, pandemic influenza, strong windstorms, water shortage, and winter weather.
- Flying debris is the greatest hazard in most severe storms. Make sure that your sukkot and their contents are secured or brought inside.
- Turn on local TV or radio, turn on and set the alarm switch on your weather radio, make sure you have ready access to safe shelter, and make your friends and family aware of the potential for tornadoes in the area.
- Keep children at school beyond regular hours if threatening weather is expected; and inform parents of this policy. Children are safer deep within a school than in a bus or car. Students should not be sent home early if severe weather is approaching, because they may still be out on the roads when it hits.
- Lunches or assemblies in large rooms should be postponed if severe weather is approaching. As illustrated above, gymnasiums, cafeterias, and auditoriums offer no meaningful protection from tornado-strength winds. Also, even if there is no tornado, severe thunderstorms can generate winds strong enough to cause major damage.
- Get more information tornado preparedness and planning for schools from the National Weather Service click here.
Yes, hurricanes can strike the New York area.
An “active to extremely active” hurricane season is expected for the Atlantic Basin this year according to the seasonal outlook issued today by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center – a division of the National Weather Service. As with every hurricane season, this outlook underscores the importance of having a hurricane preparedness plan in place. Forecasters anticipate the following to affect the Atlantic Basin:
- 14 to 23 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
- 8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
- 3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)
To get more information (including an overview and NY area historic patterns and conditions), view an excellent presentation by I. Ross Dickman, Meteorologist-in-charge, NOAA’s National Weather Service, New York, NY office.