Snow, Sleet and Freezing Rain Could Affect Travel for Several Days Across Much of New York
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed State agencies to prepare emergency assets and assist local governments as needed as multiple storm systems are expected to impact locations throughout the state with snow, sleet and freezing rain through the holiday weekend. Travel conditions are expected to be impacted, with areas in higher elevations likely seeing snow and mixed precipitation, while areas in lower elevations may see rain or ice accumulation up to a quarter of an inch in some places. Other locations should see a mix of sleet, rain and freezing rain. Due to multiple rounds of winter weather conditions, isolated power outages may also occur.
"As we head into New Year's weekend, a series of storms are poised to deliver snow, rain, and freezing rain throughout the state over the next several days," Governor Cuomo said. "State agencies are already preparing emergency response equipment and stand ready to assist any of our local partners if necessary. New Yorkers should also remember to celebrate smart this year. If anyone is traveling in the coming days, please use extreme caution while driving, especially during the evening and early morning hours, when temperatures may drop below freezing and turn the rain to ice."
As a cold front approaches the state later today, a wintry mix is expected to hit the North Country, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, and Southern Tier Regions, where some areas could see light snow accumulation. Most other areas should see a mix of rain and sleet that will likely impact travel as temperatures hover around the freezing mark.
On Friday night, another storm will impact the state with accumulating snow and sleet, freezing rain and rain that will last into Saturday morning. Areas in the Mohawk Valley and Central New York Regions could see 1 to 3 inches of snow or mixed precipitation, while locations in the Western New York, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Capital District and Mid-Hudson Regions could see a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain. As the storm moves through the state, snow and mixed precipitation may quickly transition to freezing rain. Rain may quickly freeze upon contact with the ground and cause hazardous driving conditions, especially on untreated roadways.
Forecasters are watching another storm system that could produce similar hazardous weather conditions on Sunday.
The National Weather Service continues to issue advisories, watches, and warnings for potentially hazardous winter weather conditions. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories, as well as current weather forecasts, visit the 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 3,643 supervisors and operators statewide. Staff can be configured into any type of response crew that is required and the need for resource deployments will be continually re-evaluated as conditions warrant. All affected residency locations will be staffed for 24/7 operation throughout the event.
All available snow and ice response and tree debris response equipment is ready to deploy. Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:
- 1599 large plow trucks
- 180 medium duty trucks with plow
- 39 snow blowers
- 49 loaders with grapple
- 36 tractor trailers with lowboy trailers
- 15 tree crew bucket trucks
- 34 traffic signal trucks
- 79 chippers 10" (min) capacity
The Thruway Authority has 685 operators and supervisors ready to respond with 238 large snow plows, 99 medium snow plows, 11 tow plows and 57 loaders across the state with more than 120,000 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.
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.
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 also is prepared to support power restoration activities if needed.
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 ready 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. 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.
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 and Utility Task Vehicles, are staged and ready for immediate response. All Troop emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.
Transportation accidents are the leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms. Before driving, ensure your vehicle is clear of ice and snow. Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.
Some additional tips for safe driving in winter weather conditions include:
- When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
- Make sure your vehicle is stocked with blankets, shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods, and a 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.
- Use caution on bridges - ice can form quicker on bridges than on roads.
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