January 2, 2016
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Issues Update on Heavy Lake Effect Snow

Governor Cuomo Issues Update on Heavy Lake Effect Snow

Lake Effect Snow Warnings continue in Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Jefferson, Oneida, and Oswego Counties through 7:00 p.m.

Snow showers moving into Capital District region while heaviest bands will persist in central and northern regions

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued an update on the lake effect snow that dumped up to 12 inches of snow on parts of Erie County over the holiday weekend and continues to move across central portions of the State. The forecast calls for the heaviest snow to occur across the northern and central portions of New York and could bring up to 12 inches of snow to the warning areas. Additionally, snow showers are moving into the western parts of the Capital District region. Generally, wind gusts will be 8-15 mph, but strong gusts up to 40 mph are possible by the shores of near Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

“Snow and strong winds are expected to continue to impact parts of the state through Monday, and I urge all New Yorkers in those communities to exercise caution if they must travel,” said Governor Cuomo. “This is still one of the busiest travel periods of the year, and drivers should plan ahead to account for low visibility or other hazardous conditions, and above all, stay safe.”

Lake effect snow will continue today and will vary in intensity across west and central New York State. Meanwhile, lighter snow showers will occasionally extend into the Capital District through the weekend. Lake effect is expected to break up and gradually end Monday into Tuesday. There will be higher snow accumulations within the stronger and more persistent snow bands. The coldest air mass of the season will follow Monday into Monday night and wind chills might approach advisory levels across the Adirondacks by Tuesday morning.

The New York State Department of Transportation continues its snow removal operations and has more than 116,000 tons of road salt on hand in the region and more than 900 operators and supervisors statewide ready to respond with 325 large plow/dump trucks, 36 medium plow/ dump trucks, 84 loaders, 16 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, 18 tow plows, 8 pickups with plows additional resources as necessary. Additionally, variable message signs will display critical weather warnings.

Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511 or via www.511ny.org before traveling. This free service allows users to check road conditions and transit information. Mobile users can download the updated, free 511NY mobile app from the iTunes or Google Play stores. The app now features drive mode, which provides audible alerts along a chosen route while a user is driving, warning them about incidents and construction. Users can set a destination prior to departing and receive information on up to three routes.

The New York State Thruway Authority will continue to staff at higher levels should the winds cause snow drifting. Currently, thruway has 281 operators ready to deploy 111 large snow plows, 68 medium snow plows and 30 front-end loaders in the greater Syracuse and Buffalo regions. The Thruway Authority has approximately 71,000 tons of road salt along the system in central and western New York.

Motorists are encouraged to sign up for TRANSalerts e-mails, which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway. Thruway travelers can also get real-time updates by following @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.

All New Yorkers can obtain emergency information through NY-ALERT, the State’s free, all-hazards, web-based alert and notification system. To subscribe, visit nyalert.gov. If you do not own or have access to a computer, call toll-free 1-888-697-6972 or download the app on your smartphone at ialertz.com.

Safe Travel

It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, 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.

Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:

- When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.

- 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.

- 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.

Winterize Your Vehicle

Preparing your vehicle for the winter season now will help ensure your vehicle is in good working order when you need it most. Have a mechanic check the following items on your vehicle:

Wipers and windshield washer fluid
Ignition system
Exhaust system
Flashing hazard lights
Oil level

Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. You may also want to carry a set of tire chains in your vehicle for heavy snow conditions. Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal and maintain at least a half tank of gas throughout the winter season. Finally, plan long trips carefully. Listen to the local media report or call law enforcement agencies for the latest road conditions.

Drive Safely

The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel this winter season, every driver could learn a lesson from our school bus drivers. It is elementary, but we have to keep our vehicles clear of ice and snow. Good vision is a key to good driving. Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars. Be extra alert. Remember, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Moreover, always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

Trapped in a Car

Here are some tips to follow if trapped on the road during a blizzard:

- Stay in your car and wait for help to find you.

- Run your engine for short periods of time to stay warm. Keep your down-wind window open and make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow.

- Turn on the dome light at night when you are running the engine to signal rescuers.

- Hang a brightly colored piece of cloth or piece of clothing from your car.

- Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

NYC Press Office: 212.681.4640

Albany Press Office: 518.474.8418