NY Braces for Snowstorm

National Guard Activated

Cuomo Urges Drivers to Stay Off Roads

NEW YORK- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the deployment of state resources in advance of a major weather system that is expected to result in significant snowfall for the majority of the state this weekend. 

The Governor has activated 300 members of the National Guard, with 150 on standby, who will be deployed to provide transportation support and assistance with debris clearance. 

The Governor has also activated all regional Emergency Operations Centers across the state to enhanced monitoring mode and deployed state agency resources, including the Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority, to keep roads and communities safe. 

“The impending storm will be problematic and dangerous because it will be a high level of snow over a large geographic area, and the state is deploying significant resources in preparation,” Governor Cuomo said. 

“Drivers should stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary and residents should prepare for potential power outages. Emergency Operations Centers are activated throughout the state this weekend to monitor the situation and we are already deploying significant additional resources and assets to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers throughout the duration of this storm,” Cuomo said.

Additionally, the Governor has announced that the State Department of Transportation has launched a new public education campaign to promote safe driving in winter conditions. A new website, videos and social media will encourage motorists to drive safely in snow and ice conditions, and urge drivers to give snow plows enough space to operate safely.

New Yorkers should expect a general 12 to 24 inches of snowfall throughout Upstate New York over the weekend with Winter Storm Warnings across all of Upstate. The storm will begin to roll in from the southwest Saturday morning and overspread the State Saturday afternoon into evening. 

The heaviest of the snowfall will be overnight Saturday through the day Sunday. Snowfall forecasts have remained the same with the majority of Upstate set to receive 14 to 20 inches and a portion of the Capital Region receiving up to 24 inches. Snow will linger into Monday with gusting winds causing blowing snow conditions.

New York City can expect three to six inches of snowfall before a transition to rain Saturday evening. 

On Long Island, two to five inches of snowfall can be expected before it transitions to rain. In the Mid-Hudson Region, the precipitation will transition from all snow to a mix of snow, rain, and ice pellets. The remainder of the State is expected to remain all snow. Winds gusts may reach 35 m.p.h. at times as the system moves through.

Downstate areas will see the transition to rain early in the morning Sunday, which will help to melt away some of the snow in New York City and on Long Island. In the Mid-Hudson Region, the transition from snow will not be as clean as downstate, which will lead to a mix of precipitation types before the transition back to snow. 

General Regional Total Snowfall Accumulation Potentials over approximately 36 hours:

  • 8 to 12 inches along the shores of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and on the northern boarder
  • 11 to 15 inches across Western NY, Finger Lakes, western Southern Tier, northern Central NY and central Adirondacks
  • 14 to 20 inches across Southern Tier, Central NY, Mohawk Valley, southeastern North Country
  • 19 to 25 inches across a portion of southeastern Mohawk Valley and Capital Region
  • 11 to 15 inches across northern Mid-Hudson
  • 8 to 12 inches across central Mid-Hudson
  • 6 to 9 inches across southern Mid-Hudson
  • 3 to 6 inches across NYC
  • 2 to 5 inches across Long Island

New Yorkers should pay close attention to their local weather reports to stay updated with the latest information. Additionally, the National Weather Service has already issued, or pre-scheduled, weather watches, warnings and advisories for much of the state. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.

Agency Preparations

Department of Transportation

The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 1,602 large plow trucks.

In addition, the Department has 50 tow plows, 326 large loaders, 38 snowblowers, 20 graders, 204 medium duty and pickup trucks with plows, 32 tractor trailers, and more than 450,000 tons of salt on hand. This equipment, as well as nearly 3,900 operators and supervisors, are deployed across the state as necessary in advance of winter storms to help keep roads safe.

Thirty trucks, 30 operators and four equipment operator instructors will be sent from Long Island to the Capital Region, Central New York, Lower Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier/Binghamton area.

In addition, the North Country region will be assisting Central New York to enhance service on I-81 south of Syracuse.

Motorists are reminded to check 511NY before traveling at or by downloading the mobile app. The free service allows users to check road conditions and features a winter travel advisory system with real-time travel reports and a color-coded map indicating which state roads are clear, wet or snow covered. The system provides motorists with a helpful resource to determine if travel is advisable.

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 663 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 250 Large Snow Plows, 129 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 58 Loaders across the state with more than 123,000 tons of road salt on hand. Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio 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 to download 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 by following this link: www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml. For real-time updates, motorists can follow @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.

State Police

The New York State Police are enhancing patrol coverage throughout the state by deploying additional Troopers, with a focus on roadways that are prone to being impacted by severe weather. All State Police specialized vehicles including four-wheel drive vehicles, snowmobiles, and UTVs are being strategically deployed for immediate response. We are coordinating our activities with the New York State Department of Transportation, the New York State Thruway Authority and our local partners throughout the state.

Department of Public Service

In anticipation of the snowfall this weekend, and potential outages that may occur, the Department of Public Service has been in constant and elevated contact with the utilities regarding utility planning, preparation activities and coordinating requests for assistance.

The utilities have about 4,300 baseline internal and contractor crews (line and tree) available statewide for storm response and restoration. In addition, the utilities have requested and will be getting an additional 600 full time employees. All crews will be arriving on Saturday. The additional crews will generally be located in the Hudson Valley region where potential impacts are expected. Utilities will also be monitoring potential impacts to the gas system due to the cold temperatures that will follow the storm event.

The DPS Call Center is prepared to be open on Sunday to assist customers with storm response and restoration needs.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The Port Authority has been on high alert for this weekend’s storm and has made extensive preparations for personnel and equipment at all its facilities, including the New York airports. The MTA will activate its main Emergency Operations Center in Jersey City, which oversees all Port Authority facilities, at 6 p.m. Saturday. Emergency Operations Centers also will be activated at John F. Kennedy International Airport and at LaGuardia Airport on Saturday night.

Airlines are currently making decisions about whether flights will be cancelled in advance, but there could be extensive cancellations Saturday night and Sunday based on the current forecast. Travelers should check with their carriers to make sure their flight will be taking off before going to the airport tonight and on Wednesday. If warranted, the Port Authority is also prepared to work with airlines and terminal operators to accommodate ticketed passengers who may become stranded at the airports.

All Port Authority facilities will deploy more staffing and more equipment and other resources than they would typically use for similar sized snowstorms in the past. The Port Authority stands ready with more than 500 pieces of snow equipment at airports, including melters that can liquefy up to 500 tons of snow an hour and plows that can clear snow at 40 m.p.h.

At the tunnels, bridges and bus terminals, the Port Authority urges bus travelers to check with their carriers before going to the Manhattan bus terminals since many public and private carriers may cancel or delay service if conditions warrant. All of the road surfaces on the agency’s four bridges will be pre-treated two hours in advance of the first precipitation. The agency also may impose speed and other restrictions at its bridges and tunnels based on weather conditions. Currently, the Port Authority has more than 90 pieces of snow equipment at the bridges and tunnels. PATH trains are expected to run a regular Saturday and Sunday schedule this weekend.

MTA

The MTA will be being pulling articulated – or longer — buses off the road by Saturday afternoon. Those buses will be replaced with standard 40-foot local buses, which are shorter and will have chains on them Saturday and Sunday to help better navigate slippery roads.

The MTA is prepositioning snow fighting equipment with 8,700 tons of de-icer material on hand and 107 pieces of storm fighting equipment for bridges and tunnels.

Normal weekend service is anticipated for subways. The MTA will be activating rail heaters, switch heaters and additional signal maintainers. The MTA will also be salting and sanding platforms, entrances and exits and running de-icer trains.

The Long Island Rail Road and Metro North Railroad are also expected to run normal weekend service tomorrow. Trains will be equipped with scraper shoes to scrape ice from the third rail and the MTA will be running de-icer trains.

Safe Travel

During these storms, New Yorkers should also expect to see slippery road conditions, as well as blowing and drifting snow during the Thursday evening and Friday morning commutes, as well as over the course of the weekend. Drivers are being urged to travel only when necessary and to do so with extreme caution.

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.
  • Wet leaves on roadways can cause slippery conditions, making it important to drive at slower speeds when approaching patches of them.
  • If you must travel, make sure your car is stocked with survival gear like blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, a set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
  • Do not attempt to drive over flooded roads; turn around and go another way. Water moving at two m.p.h. can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
  • Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges and low areas.
  • If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.

Additionally, the leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, ensure 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, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Moreover, always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

It’s important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 m.p.h., 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. 

Safety in Extreme Cold

Dress for the Season

  • Wear loose, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air between the layers acts as an insulator. Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded.
  • Always wear a hat or cap on your head since half of your body heat could be lost through an uncovered head.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
  • Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves because fingers maintain more warmth when they touch each other.

Physical Exertion

Winter storm conditions and cold waves are the deadliest types of weather as cold temperatures put an extra strain on your heart. Heavy exertion, such as shoveling snow, clearing debris or pushing a car can increase the risk of a heart attack.

To avoid problems, remember these tips:

  • Stay warm, dress warm and SLOW DOWN when working outdoors.
  • Take frequent rests to avoid over exertion.
  • If you feel chest pain — STOP and seek help immediately.

Hypothermia

Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause hypothermia, especially in children and the elderly.

Watch for these symptoms:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Uncontrollable shivering, followed by a sudden lack of shivering

If a person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, get emergency medical assistance immediately. Remove wet clothing, wrap the victim in warm blankets and give warm, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids until help arrives.

Frostbite

People working or playing outdoors during the winter can develop frostbite and not even know it. There is no pain associated with the early stages of frostbite, so learn to watch for these danger signs:

  • First, the skin may feel numb and become flushed. Then it turns white or grayish-yellow. Frostbitten skin feels cold to the touch.
  • If frostbite is suspected, move the victim to a warm area. Cover the affected area with something warm and dry. Never rub it!
  • Then get to a doctor or hospital as quickly as possible.

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