January 25, 2015
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Urges New Yorkers to Prepare for Major Snowstorm Forecasted to Hit Downstate Areas on Monday and Tuesday

TOP Governor Cuomo Urges New Yorkers to Prepare for...

Blizzard Forecasted to Bring 2+ Feet of Snow to NYC, LI, Lower Hudson Valley Between Monday and Tuesday


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to prepare for blizzard conditions forecasted to affect downstate areas early this week. New Yorkers should plan in advance for major disruptions during Monday evening and Tuesday morning commutes, including the possibility of closed roads and delayed or canceled public transit routes. In addition, New Yorkers should prepare for possible utility outages due to high winds downing power lines and tree limbs.

The National Weather Service on Sunday issued a blizzard watch for the greater New York City metropolitan area effective now through Tuesday night. The National Weather Service forecasts snow accumulation of at least 1 to 2 feet combined with wind gusts of up to 50 MPH. People in the region should closely monitor weather forecasts and advisories as the storm approaches the state.

“With a major winter storm approaching the state, I urge New Yorkers to take all necessary precautions and make preparations for the possibility that commutes will be disrupted on Monday and Tuesday,” Governor Cuomo said. “I have directed all State agencies to prepare for the snow storm and have equipment and resources in areas forecasted to be hit the hardest. We will continue to monitor the storm's path as it approaches New York, and I urge people to pay attention to changing weather advisories as they prepare for the snow.”

The State Emergency Operations Center in Albany will be staffed beginning Monday at noon, and staff will be on hand at State Emergency Operations Centers in Albany, Hawthorne and Hauppauge throughout the event to coordinate with all the affected counties and New York City. State equipment ready for this storm includes at least 1,806 plows and more than 126,000 tons of salt divided across the region

National Guard

The National Guard will have more than six dozen personnel and 20 vehicles stationed throughout the region beginning Monday morning for 24 hour operations. The stations include at the National Guard’s Farmingdale Center and Westhampton Air National Guard Base on Long Island, and the National Guard’s Peekskill location and Stewart Air National Guard Base in the lower Hudson Valley.

New York State Police

The New York State Police are ready to deploy 50 4x4 vehicles, 8 all-terrain vehicles and 8 ‎snowmobiles ‎in the region. In addition, the State Police assigned to the anticipated affected region will bring in additional personnel on overtime. These Troop headquarters include Troops F, G, K, L, and Thruway barracks T1 and T2. To assist, another 48 Troopers will be re-assigned from outside these troops for storm-related duties. 

Port Authority

The Port Authority is meeting with all of its line departments to make sure preparations are in place for personnel and equipment at all of its facilities. Operations personnel will work 12-hour shifts to ensure that facilities can be operated safely. The airports, bridges, tunnels and PATH also have snow desks where key personnel analyze weather reports and deploy staff and equipment.

With a storm of this magnitude, airlines typically cancel flights in advance, so travelers should check with their carriers to make sure their flight will be taking off before going to the airport. The Port Authority also will have supplies of cots and other essential items ready to accommodate passengers who may become stranded at the airports.

The Port Authority also urges bus travelers to check with their carriers before going to the bus terminals since many public and private carriers may cancel service if conditions warrant. The agency also may impose speed restrictions on its crossings, or close them, if weather conditions warrant.

The Port Authority has the following winter weather equipment and supplies ready at its major transportation facilities: 

  • More than 200 pieces of snow equipment at its airports, including melters that can liquefy up to 500 tons of snow an hour and plows that can clear snow at 40 mph;
  • More than 60 pieces of snow equipment at its bridges and tunnels, including nearly two dozen plows and spreaders at the George Washington Bridge, the world’s busiest vehicular crossing;
  • Thousands of tons of salt and sand for airport roads and parking lots, plus thousands of tons of salt for the bridges and tunnels; 
  • Hundreds of thousands of gallons of liquid anti-icer chemicals at the airports, which prevent snow and ice from bonding to runways and taxiways, plus thousands of tons of solid de-icers, which break up snow and ice already on the ground; and
  • Plow-equipped trains, liquid snow-melting agent trains and a “jet engine” plow to remove snow from PATH tracks, and snow blowers, plows and spreaders to clear station entrances, roads that serve PATH’s 13 stations, and various support facilities.

For up-to-the-minute updates on Port Authority crossings, airports and the PATH system, travelers are encouraged to sign up for Port Authority alerts at http://www.paalerts.com/

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The MTA will begin storing trains underground tomorrow night to protect the fleet from the elements. De-icers and snow throwers strategically deployed throughout the region to focus on outdoor areas and open cuts that are the most susceptible to high snow accumulations. Extra crews will be on hand to address ensure safety at stations across the region. MTA personnel have dropped salt, cleared platforms and stairs of snow from Saturday's storm, and will do so throughout the upcoming storm, but customers are urged to use extreme caution while navigating the system and always hold hand rails.

All MTA buses will have either chains or snow tires by Monday afternoon. Normal bus service will proceed Monday morning and the MTA will make scheduling adjustments as the storm progresses through Tuesday.

Thruway Authority

The New York State Thruway has activated its emergency operations center and will have on hand during the storm:

  • 338 snowplows
  • 18 snowblowers
  • 55 front end loaders
  • Approximately 126,000 tons of salt

State Department of Transportation

The New York State Department of Transportation has activated its emergency operations center and is mobilizing additional equipment from around the state, including 162 plows and nearly 388 operators and supervisors, to the Hudson Valley and Long Island to assist in the storm. When the deployment is complete, the Department of Transportation will have 600 plows and more than 1,300 operators and supervisors working in the Hudson Valley and Long Island. The DOT has a total 1,444 plows and 3,629 operators and supervisors available statewide to fight the storm. 

The Governor offered the following tips as the storm approaches with high winds and low temperatures:

Use Caution If Travel Is Necessary

It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, 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.

Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:

  • Never follow a snowplow too closely or attempt to pass one. Remember that the highway ahead of the plow is usually snow-covered;
  • Adjust speed for road conditions and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles;
  • Schedule extra time for winter travel and be patient during ice and snow removal operations;
  • Assume that bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces;
  • Be wary of black ice, which can be difficult to see but makes conditions slippery when pavement temperatures are below freezing;
  • Have a cell phone handy, if possible, but do not text while driving; distracted driving is illegal and becomes even more dangerous during storm events;
  • Never venture from your vehicle if snowbound;
  • Equip your car with emergency supplies including sand, shovel, flares, booster cables, rope, ice scraper, portable radio, flashlight, blankets and extra warm clothes;
  • Inform a responsible person of your destination, intended route, and estimated time of arrival; and
  • Keep calm and do not panic in case of a vehicle breakdown, accident, or if you become snowbound.

Motorists should also include the following emergency items in their vehicles:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Charged cell phone and automobile charger
  • Basic first-aid kit
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Extra clothes, including rain gear, boots, mittens, and socks
  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Shovel
  • Sand, road salt and/or cat litter for traction
  • Tire chains or traction mats
  • Basic tool kit, including pliers, wrench, and screwdriver
  • Tow rope
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Road flares/reflectors
  • Brightly colored cloth (to use as a flag)
  • Road maps

Heavy exertion, such as shoveling snow, clearing debris, or pushing a car, can increase the risk of a heart attack. To avoid problems:

  • Stay warm, dress warm and SLOW DOWN when working outdoors. 
  • Take frequent rests to avoid over exertion. 
  • If you feel chest pain, shortness of breath, or pain in the jaw or radiating down the arm --STOP and seek help immediately.

If You Lose Power:

  • First, call your utility to determine area repair schedules.
  • Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate when power has been restored.
  • If heat goes out during a winter storm, keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need.

Other Home Safety Tips:

  • When removing snow and ice from driveways and sidewalks, stay clear of electric and natural gas meters to avoid damaging them, inadvertently disrupting service or putting yourself in danger. Snow and ice can damage electric and natural gas meters, natural gas pipes and natural gas regulators, so never bury any of this equipment when shoveling, using a snowblower or plowing. 
  • When removing snow or ice from a roof, never let it fall on electric or natural gas meters or related equipment.
  • Natural gas appliance chimneys and vents should be kept free of snow and ice to prevent the build-up of potentially-deadly carbon monoxide. 
  • Be prepared if you smell natural gas. If you smell that distinctive sulfur-like odor – like the smell of rotten eggs – get up, get out and call your utility immediately from a cell phone or neighbor’s phone.

For more winter safety tips, visit the NYS Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/publicsafety/winter.cfm.

New York State provides a travel advisory system that features real-time travel reports and road conditions, which can be accessed by dialing 511 or online at www.511ny.org. The web site features a color-coded map indicating which state roads are snow covered, ice covered, wet, dry, or closed to help travelers determine if travel is advisable. It also provides links to airport, rail and transit information.

Thruway motorists are encouraged to sign up for TRANSalert e-mails which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway. Motorists can sign up for TRANSalerts by following this link: http://www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml. Thruway travelers can also get real-time updates by following @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting http://www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.