Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today reminded New Yorkers to be extremely cautious when traveling over the next 48 hours as a winter storm system is expected to create hazardous conditions on roadways. Despite losing strength as it moved towards the northeast, the system is still forecast to bring up to 8 inches of snow in some locations throughout the Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson, New York City and Long Island regions by Friday. New Yorkers should stay alert and limit travel in order for snow plow operators to safely clear snow and ice without worry of traffic congestion.
“New York’s emergency management officials have been tracking this current storm for several days now, and while it appears to have reduced in strength, it still has the potential to create hazardous travel conditions, especially downstate,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York’s road crews are second to none and they will get the job done – they just need room to work. So, as the snow continues to intensify, New Yorkers should do their best to avoid unnecessary travel, and if you must drive somewhere, please do so as safely as possible and be sure to give plows the space they need.”
Light snow has already begun in portions of the Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson, New York City and Long Island regions and will spread northward late afternoon into tonight, continuing to produce periods of snow into Friday. The heaviest snowfall is expected south of the Interstate 90 corridor with lighter snow continuing Friday before tapering off in the afternoon. The rest of the state should see a dusting to a couple of inches of snow by the time the system exits the state on Friday. Temperatures should remain near or above normal for most of the state with steady winds gusting up to 20 mph occasionally.
For a complete listing of weather advisories in your area, visit your area’s National Weather Service website.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Emergency Operations Center remains activated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will closely monitor weather conditions, coordinate state response operations and remain in contact with localities throughout the duration of the event. State stockpiles are prepared to deploy assets to localities to support any storm-related needs, including pumps, chainsaws, sandbags, generators, cots, blankets and bottled water.
Department of Transportation
The State Department of Transportation is prepared to respond with more than 3,600 supervisors and operators available statewide. To support the upcoming snow and ice 1,599 large snow plows event, NYSDOT is sending 76 additional operators from upstate regions to activate reserve plows on priority routes in the lower Mid-Hudson Region and Long Island. In addition, NYSDOT is staging tow services on heavily traveled corridors to ensure crashes are cleared quickly and safely.
NYSDOT is also coordinating with the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to place sawyer crews on standby in the Mid-Hudson, Southern Tier and Long Island regions to clear downed trees and quickly remove them from state highways. Variable message signs will urge motorists to avoid travel unless absolutely necessary.
The Department has the following assets available for the upcoming snow and ice event:
- 313 large loaders
- 174 medium duty plows
- 80 chippers
- 52 tow plows
- 38 snow blowers
- 36 traffic tower platforms
- 18 graders
- 14 tree crew bucket trucks
- 11 pickups with plows
The Thruway Authority has 690 operators and supervisors ready to respond with 247 large snow plows, 106 medium snow plows, 11 tow plows and 62 loaders across the state with more than 117,000 tons of road salt on hand.
Variable Message Signs and social media are utilized to alert motorists of winter weather conditions on the Thruway. The Thruway Authority encourages motorists to download its mobile app, which is available for free on iPhone and Android devices. The app provides motorists direct access to real-time traffic and navigation assistance while on the go. Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert e-mails which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway here.
Department of Environmental Conservation
DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and actively patrolling areas and infrastructure likely to be impacted by severe weather. All available assets are positioned to assist with any emergency response.
Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
New York State Park Police and park personnel are on alert and closely monitoring weather conditions and impacts. State Park Police snowmobile units and park Sawyer crews are prepared to assist in the storm response. Park visitors should check parks.ny.gov or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.
Department of Public Service
New York’s utilities have approximately 5,500 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response and restoration efforts across New York State. Department of Public Service staff will track the utilities’ work throughout the storm event and will ensure utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to be impacted the most.
New York State Police
State Police are prepared to deploy additional Troopers as needed to affected areas. All State Police specialized vehicles, including four-wheel drive vehicles, snowmobiles and Utility Task Vehicles, are staged and ready for immediate response. All Troop emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.
New York Power Authority / Canal Corporation
The New York Power Authority and the Canal Corporation staff has performed preparations for the forecasted weather to ensure all facilities, assets and equipment are secured and ready. The Power Authority is prepared to support power restoration activities if needed.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Metropolitan Transportation Authority is closely monitoring weather conditions to ensure safe, reliable service. MTA employees will be poised to spread salt and clear platforms and stairs of snow and ice, keep signals, switches, and third rail operating Customers are encouraged to check new.mta.info for the latest service updates, and to use caution while navigating the system. Customers should also sign up for real-time service alerts via text or email. These alerts are also available via the MTA’s apps: MYmta, Metro-North Train Time and Long Island Rail Road Train Time.
The Port Authority urges travelers at its facilities to use caution during the storm. Speed restrictions may be in effect at the bridges as well as along roadways to and from the crossings. Passengers through the Port Authority’s airports, bus terminal and bus station are encouraged to reach out to carriers and airlines directly for the latest information on delays and cancelations. For the latest information about Port Authority facilities, please check social media, sign up for PA alerts or download one of the PA mobile apps.
Winter Safety Tips
Some of the most important tips for safe driving include:
- When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
- Use caution on bridges as ice can form quicker than on roads.
- If you must travel, make sure your car is stocked with survival gear like blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
- If you have a cell phone or other communications device such as a two-way radio available for your use, keep the battery charged and keep it with you whenever traveling. If you should become stranded, you will be able to call for help, advising rescuers of your location.
- The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, make sure that your vehicle is clear of ice and snow; good vision is key to good driving. Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars. Be extra alert and remember that snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.
It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 mph, which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit, to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. Oftentimes on interstate highways, snowplows will operate side by side, as this is the most efficient and safe way to clear several lanes at one time.
Motorists and pedestrians should also keep in mind that snowplow drivers have limited lines of sight, and the size and weight of snowplows can make it very difficult to maneuver and stop quickly. Snow blowing from behind the plow can severely reduce visibility or cause whiteout conditions. Motorists should not attempt to pass snowplows or follow too closely. The safest place for motorists to drive is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.