January 19, 2019
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Issues Update Ahead of Winter Storm

TOP Governor Cuomo Issues Update Ahead of Winter Storm

Total Snow Accumulation of Up to 24 Inches Expected in Some Regions of the State

 

Tractor Trailer and Bus Ban on Much of the Thruway System and Most Interstate Highways Will Go into Effect at 3PM Today

  

450 Members of National Guard  Have Been Activated to Assist with Storm Response

 

New Website and Awareness Campaign to Help Educate New Yorkers on Winter Driving Safety

 

 State Emergency Operations Center Activated to Level 3

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today provided an update on the ongoing winter weather affecting communities statewide. As a large system forecasted to bring up to two feet of snow in some locations moves into the state this afternoon, the Governor has directed the State's Emergency Operation Center to raise their activation to level 3. Yesterday, the Governor directed the New York State Department of Transportation and the Thruway Authority to ban tractor trailers and buses on the entire Thruway system, with the exception of I-95 in Westchester and Bronx counties, and most interstate highways starting at 3 p.m. today and lasting through the storm. Earlier this week, the Governor directed state agencies to conduct a number of preparatory measures, including the pre-deployment of critical assets, as well as the activation of both the State Emergency Operations Center and 450 members of the National Guard to assist with state storm response missions. Those measures all remain in effect.

 

"As this major winter storm begins to move through the state today and into tomorrow, I urge New Yorkers to take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and their families safe," Governor Cuomo said. "I encourage everyone to remain off the roads unless absolutely necessary to stay safe and to allow our plows to do their jobs safely and efficiently."

 

Beginning Saturday afternoon, New Yorkers should expect a general 14 to 20 inches of snowfall throughout Upstate New York during the following 36 hours. The system will develop and move west to east on Saturday throughout Upstate, especially during afternoon and evening hours. The time period between Saturday evening and Sunday morning is currently being forecasted as having the highest potential for the heaviest snowfall, with rates expected to reach one to two inches per hour. Sleet and freezing rain will mix in late Saturday night into early Sunday for portions of Mid-Hudson Region. Northwest winds will increase on Sunday as frigid, Arctic air overtakes the area. In addition to causing areas of blowing and drifting snow, dangerously cold wind chills in the teens to 20s below zero are expected through Monday.

 

In the lower Mid-Hudson, New York City and Long Island Regions, the storm will move in Saturday evening into Sunday and is expected to result in two to three inches of snow. Light snow is expected around 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon. There is also a chance of freezing rain on Sunday morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. A change-over to all rain will occur around 8 a.m. Rain will continue through Sunday afternoon before a change-over to snow, which will taper off around 8 p.m. There is a chance of a flash freeze on Sunday evening as temperatures plummet. Wind chill values between zero and negative fine with temperatures in the teens Sunday into Monday.

 

New Yorkers should pay close attention to their local weather reports to stay updated with the latest information. Additionally, the National Weather Service has already issued, or pre-scheduled, weather watches, warnings and advisories for much of 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 ready to respond with 1,606 large plow trucks including 100 reserve trucks, which will be actively engaged in this snow and ice event. 

 

In addition, the Department has 52 tow plows, 326 large loaders, 36 snowblowers, 19 graders, 205 medium duty and pickup trucks with plows, 30 tractor trailers, and more than 460,000 tons of salt on hand. This equipment, as well as nearly 3,900 operators and supervisors, are deployed across the state as necessary in advance of winter storms to help keep roads safe.  An additional 150 managers and staff have been assigned to the Incident Command System statewide. 

 

Thirty trucks, 30 operators and four equipment operator instructors, four mechanics, two mechanic trucks and four snowblowers will be deployed from home regions to other areas as follows:

 

  • Capital District: The region is receiving eight trucks, eight operators, two mechanics, one mechanic truck and one equipment operator instructor from Long Island, plus one additional equipment operator instructor from the DOT Main Office.  
  • Central New York: The region is receiving ten trucks, ten operators, two mechanics and one mechanic truck from Long Island.
  • Lower Hudson Valley: The region is receiving nine trucks, nine operators and two equipment operator instructors from Long Island. 
  • Southern Tier: The region is receiving three trucks, three operators, and two snowblowers from Long Island. 
  • Mohawk Valley: The region is receiving two snowblowers from the North Country. 

 

In addition, the North Country and Southern Tier regions will be assisting Central New York to enhance service on I-81. 

 

Motorists are reminded to check 511NY before traveling at or by downloading the mobile app. The free service allows users to check road conditions and features a winter travel advisory system with real-time travel reports and a color-coded map indicating which state  roads are clear, wet or snow covered. The system provides motorists with a helpful resource to determine if travel is advisable.

 

On Thursday, the Governor also announced that the State Department of Transportation launched a new public education campaign to promote safe driving in winter conditions. A new website, videos and social media campaign will encourage motorists to drive safely in snow and ice conditions, and urge drivers to give snow plows enough space to operate safely.

 

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 663 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 250 Large Snow Plows, 129 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 58 Loaders across the state with more than 125,000 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 to download 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 by following this link: www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml. For real-time updates, motorists can follow@ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.

 

National Guard

Governor Cuomo has activated 450 members of the National Guard to assist with state storm response missions. At this time, Soldiers and Airmen are either in an immediate response force or performing support missions. Members will be deployed in teams throughout the state to provide transportation support, whether it be personnel or supplies, as well as to support some debris clearance. National Guard personnel will also be supporting each of the Office of Emergency Management's 10 stockpile sites with vehicles and personnel to move items if necessary, and will be supporting the NYSP with vehicles and drivers at five locations.
 

State Police

The New York State Police are enhancing patrol coverage throughout the state by deploying additional Troopers, with a focus on roadways that are prone to being impacted by severe weather. All State Police specialized vehicles including four-wheel drive vehicles, snowmobiles, and UTVs are being strategically deployed for immediate response. We are coordinating our activities with the New York State Department of Transportation, the New York State Thruway Authority and our local partners throughout the state.

 

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The Port Authority remains on high alert and has made extensive preparations for personnel and equipment at all facilities, including airports. The main Emergency Operations Center in Jersey City, which oversees all Port Authority facilities, will be activated at 6 p.m. Saturday. Emergency Operations Centers also will be activated at John F. Kennedy International Airport at 3 p.m. Saturday, at LaGuardia Airport at 3 p.m. Saturday and at Newark Liberty International Airport at 11 a.m. Saturday.  The Port Authority Bus Terminal Emergency Operations Center also will be activated at 2 p.m. Saturday.

 

Airlines will continue to monitor forecasts, and reduced schedules and extensive cancellations can be expected after 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Travelers should check with their carriers to make sure their flight will be taking off before going to the airport. The Port Authority is prepared to work with airlines and our terminal operators to accommodate ticketed passengers who may become stranded at the airports, including 500 cots at each airport.  In addition, the Port Authority has made extensive plans to provide busing in the event that service on AirTrain JFK is disrupted. 

 

Due to the ongoing federal shutdown, the Port Authority will monitor TSA staffing levels and wait times at all of the airports screening checkpoints throughout the weekend, and will remain in constant touch with TSA officials at the airports in order to proactively share real time information about wait times with the traveling public on the Port Authority website

 

The Port Authority currently has nearly 450 pieces of snow equipment at airports and more than 90 pieces of snow equipment including plows ready to deploy at the bridges and tunnels.

 

PATH trains are expected to run a regular Saturday and Sunday schedule this weekend, however, PATH's World Trade Center Station will close this weekend for scheduled Superstorm Sandy maintenance. Customers will be directed to the NY Waterway ferries as they have been for the past two weekends.  If the storm prevents the ferries from operating, customers will be directed to the 33rd Street PATH line to get to and from Manhattan. 

 

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The MTA will be pulling articulated - or longer -- buses off the road by Saturday afternoon. Those buses will be replaced with standard 40-foot local buses, which are shorter and will have chains on them Saturday and Sunday to help better navigate slippery roads.

 

The MTA is prepositioning snow fighting equipment with 8,700 tons of de-icer material on hand and 107 pieces of storm fighting equipment for bridges and tunnels.

 

Normal weekend service is anticipated for subways. The MTA will be activating rail heaters, switch heaters and additional signal maintainers. The MTA will also be salting and sanding platforms, entrances and exits and running de-icer trains.

 

The Long Island Rail Road and Metro North Railroad are also expected to run normal weekend service tomorrow. Trains will be equipped with scraper shoes to scrape ice from the third rail and the MTA will be running de-icer trains.

 

Department of Public Service 

The Department of Public Service is in contact with utility senior executives to ensure that the utilities are prepared for inclement weather, and it will be closely monitoring utility storm-preparation efforts to ensure that utilities stand ready to minimize outages and speed outage restorations. Electric and gas utilities, as well as telecommunication service providers, such as Verizon, are prepared to bring on additional personnel to minimize service disruptions, if they occur. 

 

New York's utilities have an existing base of 4,300 workers available for restoration efforts, as needed and have secured an additional 713 workers ahead of the storm. The utilities are on alert and are closely watching as the storm develops and will deploy restoration crews where needed. Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the storm event. Utilities are prepared to respond 24 hours a day to power disruptions and are mandated to implement their emergency response plans, when needed, which includes contacting customers on life-support equipment and other critical customers.

 

In light of the potential significant inclement weather expected, the Department will expand its Call Center Helpline hours, if needed, beginning Sunday, Jan. 20, from 9:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M., to assist consumers in storm response and restoration efforts. The Department's Call Center Helpline can be reached by calling (800) 342-3377. Department staff will monitor and report on storm impacts and utility restoration activities throughout the event and will be present in the field, as needed. 

Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the restoration period. The utilities are prepared to respond to power disruptions throughout the event.

 

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. State Parks will pre-deploy 38 snowmobiles to 10 staging areas, as well as 5 plow trucks to help maintain these areas. New York State Parks has more than 1,000 emergency equipment resources on hand across the state. This includes light/medium duty plows, snowmobiles, 4x4 vehicles, ATVs and portable generators. Park patrons should check parks.ny.gov or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.

 

Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

With the storm coming and severely cold temperatures expected over the next several days, a Code Blue is likely to be in effect throughout much of the state. When air temperatures are at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, including wind-chill, local social services districts must take necessary steps to ensure homeless individuals have access to shelter, and that shelter hours are extended, under the state's Code Blue regulation.

 

 

Safe Travel

During these storms, New Yorkers should also expect to see slippery road conditions, as well as blowing and drifting snow during the Thursday evening and Friday morning commutes, as well as over the course of the weekend. Drivers are being urged to travel only when necessary and to do so with extreme caution.

 

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.
  • Do not attempt to drive over flooded roads; turn around and go another way. Water moving at two m.p.h. can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
  • 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.

 

Additionally, the leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, ensure 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, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Moreover, 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. 

 

Safety in Extreme Cold

Dress for the Season

  • Wear loose, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air between the layers acts as an insulator. Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded.
  • Always wear a hat or cap on your head since half of your body heat could be lost through an uncovered head.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
  • Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves because fingers maintain more warmth when they touch each other.

 

Physical Exertion

Winter storm conditions and cold waves are the deadliest types of weather as cold temperatures put an extra strain on your heart. Heavy exertion, such as shoveling snow, clearing debris or pushing a car can increase the risk of a heart attack.

 

To avoid problems, remember these tips:

  • Stay warm, dress warm and SLOW DOWN when working outdoors.
  • Take frequent rests to avoid over exertion.
  • If you feel chest pain -- STOP and seek help immediately.

 

Hypothermia

Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause hypothermia, especially in children and the elderly.

 

Watch for these symptoms:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Uncontrollable shivering, followed by a sudden lack of shivering

 

If a person's body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, get emergency medical assistance immediately. Remove wet clothing, wrap the victim in warm blankets and give warm, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids until help arrives.

 

Frostbite

People working or playing outdoors during the winter can develop frostbite and not even know it. There is no pain associated with the early stages of frostbite, so learn to watch for these danger signs:

  • First, the skin may feel numb and become flushed. Then it turns white or grayish-yellow. Frostbitten skin feels cold to the touch.
  • If frostbite is suspected, move the victim to a warm area. Cover the affected area with something warm and dry. Never rub it!
  • Then get to a doctor or hospital as quickly as possible.
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Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office