December 23, 2020
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Directs State Agencies to Prepare For Christmas Eve Storm Bringing Heavy Rain, Lake Effect Snow and High Winds

TOP Governor Cuomo Directs State Agencies to...

Up to Four Inches of Rain Combined with Snowmelt May Cause Potential Flooding Issues in Eastern and Southern Parts of State ThroughChristmas Day

 

Up to a Foot of Lake Effect Snow Possible in Western New York Through Saturday

 

Wind Gusts Up to 60 MPH May Cause Power Outages and Dangerous Travel Conditions

 

MTA Bridges Will Have a Ban on Tandem Vehicles and Empty Tractor Trailers From 6 p.m. on Dec. 24 to 10 a.m. on Dec. 25

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to prepare for a weather system expected to move through the state beginning Christmas Eve and bring a mix of heavy rain and high winds to the eastern and southern parts of the state, as well as heavy lake effect snow in Western New York.  In the Capital, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley, New York City and Long Island Regions, flooding may be possible with up to four inches of rain combining with existing snow and snowmelt.  The storm could also bring potential wind gusts of up to 60 mph to much of downstate which may result in power outages and dangerous travel conditions, especially for high profile vehicles. In Western New York, travel conditions could be also difficult with heavy lake effect snow possible with accumulations of more than a foot of snow and wind gusts of up to 35 mph predicted in some areas."

"It appears as if Mother Nature is giving us a mixed bag of weather as a gift this holiday season, with lake effect snow forecast for Western New York, and a potential washout everywhere else," Governor Cuomo said. "I have directed our state agencies to prepare emergency response assets and remain in constant coordination with local governments and utility companies to ensure any problems stemming from the storm are addressed immediately. If you plan on traveling, please do so with care and remember to celebrate smart." 

A passing cold front is forecast to bring heavy rain, gusty winds, and the possibility of flooding beginning Thursday evening and continuing through Friday. In the Capital, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley, New York City, and Long Island Regions, 1 to 4 inches of rainfall is expected by the end of the storm on Friday. Additionally, winds in the New York City and Long Island Regions could gust as high as 60 mph during the overnight hours and on Friday. In Western New York, lake effect snowfall amounts ranging from 6 to 12 inches are possible. There is also the potential for freezing conditions on the roads on Friday morning as colder air moves in from the west.

Flood Watches, High Wind Watches and Winter Storm Watches have been issued for locations across 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 prepared to respond with 3,587 supervisors and operators available statewide.  The need for resource deployments (operators, equipment, mechanics, EOI's, traffic signal technicians) will be continually reevaluated as conditions warrant throughout the event.  Drainage inlets, culverts and other drainage structures are being inspected and cleared of accumulated ice and snow. Flood and wind response tools (generators, pumps, chainsaws, light plants, hand tools, chippers, etc.) are being readied and loaded into response trucks for immediate dispatch, while plow trucks are being dressed for plowing and salting operations 

All available flood/wind/snow and ice response equipment is ready to deploy.  Statewide equipment numbers are as follows: 

  • 1599 large plow trucks
  • 175 medium duty trucks with plow
  • 40 snow blowers
  • 49 loaders with grapple
  • 16 vacuum trucks with sewer jet
  • 31 tracked excavators
  • 45 wheeled excavators
  • 53 tractor trailers with lowboy trailer
  • 15 tree crew bucket trucks
  • 33 traffic signal trucks
  • 6 water pumps (4-6 inch)
  • 79 chippers 10" (min) capacity

All affected residency locations will be staffed for 24/7 operation throughout the duration of priority response operations.  Mechanic support will be available 24/7 to keep response equipment operational. 

For real time travel information, call 511, visit www.511NY.org, or logon to the new mobile site at m.511ny.org. 

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 684 operators and supervisors ready to respond with 240 large snowplows, 106 medium snow lows, 11 tow plows and 61 loaders across the state with more than 116,000 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 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.

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.

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.

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 the utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to experience the greatest impact.

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 monitor weather conditions, coordinate state response operations and stay in contact with localities throughout the duration of the event.  State Stockpiles are also prepared to deploy assets to localities to support any storm-related needs, including pumps, chainsaws, sandbags and bottled water. 

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 and Utility Task Vehicles, are staged and ready for immediate response.  All Troop emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) personnel are hard at work to ensure safe, reliable service continues throughout the storm and aftermath and are monitoring the weather closely, preparing for heavy rain and winds across its service region.  Drains are being inspected and cleared as necessary, and personnel and equipment are being staged at strategic locations for faster response.  Equipment being prepared includes water pumps, tools for clearing vegetation and other debris, emergency trucks and other maintenance vehicles.  Flood-prone areas are being closely monitored, and construction activities are being monitored and will be suspended as necessary. 

Buses will operate on reduced frequency as needed and MTA bridges will have a ban on tandem vehicles and empty tractor trailers from 6 p.m. on Dec. 24 to 10 a.m. on Dec. 25, or as necessary. Customers should 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. 

Port Authority

The Port Authority urges motorists to use caution; speed restrictions may be in effect at the bridges as well as along roadways to and from the crossings.  Travelers 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, cancelations or rebookings.  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.  

New York Power Authority / Canal Corporation

The New York Power Authority and the Canal Corporation staff is performing preparations for the forecasted weather to ensure all facilities, assets and equipment are secured and ready. The Power Authority also is prepared to support power restoration activities if needed.​

Safe Travel 

Please drive with care and keep these safety tips in mind: 

  • DO NOT attempt to drive over a flooded road. Turn around and go another way.
  • DO NOT underestimate the destructive power of fast-moving water. Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float your car. Water moving at two m.p.h. can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
  • Leave early to avoid being marooned on flooded roads.
  • Follow recommended routes. DO NOT ignore emergency detours to view flooded areas.
  • As you travel, monitor NOAA Weather Radio and local radio broadcasts.
  • Watch for washed-out roads, earth-slides, broken water or sewer mains, loose or downed electrical wires, and falling or fallen objects.
  • 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. 

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. 

The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents.  Before driving, ensure 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.  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.

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