Snow Showers During Morning Commute Could Cause Travel Issues Friday Morning Across Most of Upstate
Lake Effect Snow Expected to Begin Friday Afternoon in Locations Northeast of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and Continue Through Saturday Evening
Combination of Heavy Snow and Gusty Winds Expected to Cause Hazardous Travel Conditions
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed state agencies to prepare emergency response assets in advance of a weather system that is forecast to dump more than a foot of lake effect snow in some parts of the state along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario starting Friday afternoon. The lake effect snow is expected to begin in locations northeast of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and continue through Saturday, with snow totals reaching or exceeding a foot and winds gusting up to 35 mph throughout the weather event. The combination of heavy snow and gusting winds could produce hazardous travel conditions in affected areas, especially during the Friday evening commute.
Light snow showers across much of Upstate New York could make Friday morning's commute problematic, but accumulations will remain low as temperatures rise throughout the day and the snow shifts to light rain.
"This latest storm could throw a curveball to Upstate commuters Friday morning with a dangerous combination of heavy snow and strong winds," Governor Cuomo said. "State agencies remain at the ready with emergency assets to assist our local partners in the western part of the state with this round of lake effect snow, and I'm urging all travelers to take their time and play it safe if they have to drive during this storm."
Starting Friday, a weather system will produce a period of heavy lake snows northeast of both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario Friday night through Saturday evening. The heaviest snow is expected off Lake Erie from the Buffalo metro area to Niagara Falls, with strong winds blowing lake effect snow further inland. Off Lake Ontario, the heaviest snows will blanket the northern portions of Tug Hill up to the Saint Lawrence River. Snowfall totals are expected to be in excess of a foot in these areas. Winds could gust over 35 mph at times, causing considerable blowing and drifting snow, reducing visibility and creating hazardous travel conditions. Lake effect snow showers are expected to diminish in intensity Saturday night.
Other locations throughout the state could see anywhere from 2 to 4 inches from the passing weather system during the morning hours, especially in higher elevations, before changing over to rain as daytime high temperatures will push toward 40 across Central New York, the Capital Region and Mid-Hudson Region.
Winter Storm Watches have been issued for locations along Lakes Erie and Ontario, including Erie, Genesee, Wyoming, Jefferson and Lewis counties through early Sunday morning. For a complete listing of weather watches and warnings in your area, visit your area's 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 responding with 3,645 supervisors and operators. All residency locations will remain staffed for 24/7 operation throughout the duration of the event. Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:
- 1,605 large plow trucks
- 175 medium duty plows
- 11 pickups with plows
- 51 tow plows
- 315 large loaders
- 39 snow blowers
The Thruway Authority has 694 operators and supervisors ready to respond with 242 large snowplows, 103 medium snowplows, 11 tow plows and 63 loaders across the state with more than 116,000 tons of road salt on hand.
Variable Message Signs 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 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.
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. Park visitors should check parks.ny.gov or call their local park offices for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.
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 utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to be impacted the most.
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 is prepared to support power restoration activities if needed.
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, snowmobiles and Utility Task Vehicles, are staged and ready for immediate response. All Troop emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.
The Port Authority urges travelers through the agency's airports, bus terminal and bus station to reach out to carriers directly for the latest information on delays, cancelations or rebookings. The shared use path at the Bayonne Bridge and the shared use path at the Goethals Bridge remain closed. PATH service has resumed throughout the system, but delays may still impact some stations. Customers are encouraged to check for updates on Port Authority facilities' social media, sign up for PA alerts, or download one of the PA mobile apps for the latest information about Port Authority facilities.
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.
- If you must travel, make sure your car is stocked with survival gear like 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.
- If you have a cell phone or other communications device such as a 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.
The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, make sure 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 that snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.
It is important for motorists on all roads 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.