Forecasts Now Calling for More Than Four Feet of Snow in Tug Hill Region of North Country; Blizzard Warning Issued by National Weather Service
Department of Transportation Deploying 15 Additional Plows to Tug Hill Area
Thruway to Lift Empty Tractor Trailer Ban Between Lackawanna Toll Barrier and Pennsylvania State Line
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed state agencies to deploy additional storm response assets as forecasts are now calling for up to four feet of snow in portions of the Tug Hill Plateau section of the North Country by Sunday morning. Additionally, the southern portion of Western New York may see up to two feet of lake effect snow. To further support affected communities, the Governor has directed the Department of Transportation to deploy an additional 88 staff and 37 plow trucks to support activities in these critical areas. They are being distributed as follows:
- Central New York is receiving 12 plow operators, three supervisors, and six plow trucks from the Mid-Hudson Region; eight plow operators, one supervisor, and four plow trucks from the Southern Tier; and one incident command system specialist from the Capital Region.
- Western New York is receiving 10 plow operators, two supervisors and five plow trucks from the Southern Tier.
- The North Country is receiving four plow operators, one equipment operator instructor, and two plow trucks from the Mid-Hudson Region; 32 plow operators, four supervisors and 16 plow trucks from the Capital Region; and eight plow operators, two supervisors and four plow trucks from the Mohawk Valley.
While state agencies respond to the storm, Governor Cuomo is urging New Yorkers to avoid unnecessary travel and keep a close eye on local weather forecasts for changing developments.
"This storm has the potential to deliver significant accumulations and disrupt daily routines and I am urging New Yorkers in these areas to be prepared and limit unnecessary travel," Governor Cuomo said. "As our state assets work to clear the roads, please heed all road closures and advisories and monitor alerts throughout the storm. We will continue to actively monitor conditions."
New Yorkers in the Tug Hill Plateau should expect to see between three and four feet of snow by Sunday. Outside of the Tug Hill, surrounding areas are forecast to see more than a foot, with totals continuing to decrease further away. Areas along the I-90 corridor in the Western New York, Finger Lakes and Central New York are forecasted to experience between three to six inches of snow. Totals will decrease moving south, except in the southern portion of Western New York, where lake effect snow could drop up to two feet of snow. The Capital, Mid-Hudson, and portions of the Mohawk Valley will most likely experience a mix of rain and snow.
The National Weather Service has issued numerous watches, warnings, advisories, associated with this storm. New Yorkers can view the complete listing of these notices, as well as access the latest forecasts, by visiting the National Weather Service website here.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Emergency Operations Center remains activates to Level 4 - Enhanced Monitoring Mode and is monitoring weather conditions, coordinating state response operations and will be in contact with localities throughout the duration of the event. State Stockpiles are also prepared to deploy assets to localities affected by storm-related needs. Additionally, the leadership from the Office of Emergency Management has coordinated with partner agencies to strategically pre-deploy snowmobiles and other assets that support rescue operations to the areas expected to be most impacted.
Department of Transportation
In addition to the deployments above, the State Department of Transportation is actively engaged in snow and ice activities in multiple regions and has 3,802 operators and supervisors available. All residency locations will remain staffed for 24/7operation throughout the duration of the event and priority cleanup operations.
The need for additional resources will be re-evaluated as conditions warrant. Fleet mechanics in affected areas will be staffing all main residency locations 24/7 to perform repairs and keep trucks on the road. Statewide assets are as follows:
- 1,583 large plow trucks
- 328 large loaders
- 179 medium plow trucks
- 51 tow plows
- 40 snowblowers
- 19 graders
The Thruway Authority has 703 operators and supervisors ready to deploy 244 Large Snow Plows, 104 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 62 Loaders across the state with more than 119,500 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 is also encouraging 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.
New York State Police
The New York State Police has instructed all Troopers to closely monitor conditions for any problems and continues to deploy additional patrols in affected areas as needed. All four-wheel drive vehicles are in-service and all specialty vehicles, including snowmobiles and utility vehicles, are staged and ready for deployment.
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, including saw crews, snowmobiles, and UTVs, are positioned ready to assist with any emergency response.
Department of Public Service
New York's utilities have approximately 4,500 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response and restoration across New York State. Department of Public Service staff will track the utilities' work throughout the storm event and will ensure the utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to experience the greatest impact.
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. Response equipment is being fueled, tested and prepared for storm response use. Park visitors should check parks.ny.gov or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.
- 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.
- Make sure your car is stocked with 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.
- Keep your gas tank full to prevent gasoline freeze-up.
- If you have a cell phone or 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.
- Make sure someone knows your travel plans.
- While driving, keep vehicles clear of ice and snow.
- Plan stops and keep distance between cars. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.
It's important 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.
For more winter weather safety information, please visit the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info.