Long Tandem Tractor Trailers Banned on Portions of the New York State Thruway Until 10 p.m.
State Emergency Operations Center Remains Activated in Enhanced Monitoring Mode
New Yorkers Urged to Use Extreme Caution While Traveling as Storm Will Continue to Create Difficult Driving Conditions
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the system of winter weather currently moving through the state. Since early Tuesday morning, the majority of the state has seen significant snow accumulations and, with a system of warm air moving in from the south, many areas will begin to experience a wintery mix of snow and ice. This will make driving conditions even more difficult during the overnight hours and into the Wednesday morning commute, especially with wind gusts creating blowing and drifting snow. Currently, long tandem tractor trailers are banned on the New York State Thruway between Exit 17 (Newburgh) and Exit 39 (Syracuse). The Governor is urging all drivers to use extreme caution while traveling and to only drive if absolutely necessary.
"With a mix of snow and ice expected to impact most of the state, this system of winter weather has the potential to create difficult travel conditions," Governor Cuomo said. "I am urging New Yorkers to drive with extreme caution and stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. All long tandem tractor trailers should stay off banned roads, and any violators of this ban and the companies they work for will be punished appropriately."
Snow began entering New York early Tuesday morning and has accumulated to fairly significant levels statewide. Looking forward from Tuesday evening into Wednesday, a system of warm air will allow the snow to transition to rain, freezing rain, and ice pellets for the Mid-Hudson, Southern Tier, New York City and Long Island Regions, as well as the southern portions of the Capital and Mohawk Valley Regions. New Yorkers in these areas may experience up to a quarter inch of ice accumulation by the time the weather subsides.
Snow will remain the primary form of precipitation in the North County and northern portions of the Central New York, Mohawk Valley and Capital Regions, with many areas forecasted to receive up to a foot of snow. In the Tug Hill Plateau portion of the North Country, a lake effect system could boost total accumulations to over 18 inches.
New Yorkers should pay close attention to local weather reports for the latest information. Numerous Winter Weather Advisories, Watches and Warnings have been issued by the National Weather Service and New Yorkers are encouraged to stay informed throughout the duration of the storm. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will coordinate with state agencies and local governments to ensure resources from the State's ten regional stockpiles are available for deployment throughout the weather event. Staff at the State Emergency Operations Center, which remains activated in enhanced monitoring mode, and regional personnel are prepared to respond to any issues as necessary.
Department of Transportation
The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 1,504 large plow trucks, an additional 95 activated reserve plows, 52 tow plows, 20 graders, 329 large loaders, 185 medium duty plow trucks, 35 snow blowers and 32 tractor trailers. The Department has more than 410,000 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. The Department has also deployed an additional 50 portable variable message signs to enhance storm messaging to the public on key corridors throughout the state.
The Department is deploying additional assets as follows:
- The Capital Region will receive five plow trucks, 10 operators and one supervisor from Long Island
- The Mohawk Valley will receive five plow trucks, 10 operators and one supervisor from Long Island
- The North Country will receive eight plow trucks, 16 operators and three supervisors from the Southern Tier
- The Mid-Hudson Valley will receive four equipment operators from Long Island, two equipment operator instructors from Central New York and one equipment operator instructor from the Southern Tier
- The Long Island Region has activated an additional 30 large contractor plows
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.
The Governor also recently 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.
The Thruway Authority has 667 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 244 Large Snow Plows, 126 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 56 Loaders across the state with more than 118,000 tons of road salt on hand. Additionally, the Thruway Authority has deployed extra staff and equipment from the lower Hudson Valley to Central New York including six plow operators, one supervisor, one mechanic, three Large Snow Plows, and one Tow Plow. 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.
Snowplows travel at about 35 m.p.h. — which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit — in order to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. The safest place for motorists is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.
New York City Transit subways and buses, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad are operating on regular weekday schedules and anticipate continuing to throughout the rest of the day. MTA Bridges and Tunnels is advising motorists to avoid unnecessary travel. Each agency is monitoring weather conditions and deploying personnel and equipment to combat conditions as warranted, including having snow and ice-fighting equipment such as deicer trains at the ready. Platforms, stairs and other station areas have been salted and sanded and are being refreshed as necessary, and switch heaters have been activated on subway and commuter rail tracks. Customers are being reminded to plan extra travel time and use caution when walking on platforms, walkways, and always use the hand rail when walking on stairs. For up-to-the-minute updates, customers should visit the MTA website at new.mta.info, use the MYmta smartphone app, and/or sign up for email and text message service alerts at https://protect2.fireeye.com/url?k=20b359bf-7c9758f6-20b1a08a-0cc47aa8d394-d379dc0bf9e072ad&u=http://www.mymtaalerts.com/.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
The ongoing winter storm has forced airlines to cancel a portion of flights at JFK and LaGuardia airports, and the Port Authority strongly urges travelers to contact their airlines before going to the airport during the remainder of the evening.
As of 3 p.m., John F. Kennedy International Airport reported 246 cancellations today, or 20 percent of JFK's scheduled flights. There also have been more than 125 flights delayed as of 2 p.m., primarily due to de-icing operations and sleet/freezing rain conditions that occurred at the airport between noon and 2 p.m. More than 50 pieces of equipment have been utilized to keep runways, taxiways and other airport areas clear.
As of 3 p.m., LaGuardia Airport has 502 cancellations or about 45 of LGA's scheduled flights. More than 20 pieces of equipment have been used to keep the airport's airfield and other areas clear.
There have been temporary holds of flights destined both to LaGuardia and JFK to ensure there is enough gate space to accommodate arriving planes.
At the Port Authority Bus Terminal, long-haul carriers have cancelled most service north and west of the city. Greyhound has suspended all service from the George Washington Bridge Bus Station as of 3 p.m.
If warranted, the Port Authority also is prepared to partner with airlines and terminal operators to accommodate ticketed passengers who may become stranded at the airports. Each airport is stocked with critical supplies such as cots, blankets, diapers and baby formula to provide for stranded customers.
Customers can access up-to-date information on conditions at Port Authority facilities on the Port Authority's website, which includes live feeds of its respective social media channels. In addition to the website, travelers also are encouraged to sign up for Port Authority alerts at https://protect2.fireeye.com/url?k=4174dbb9-1d50daf0-4176228c-0cc47aa8d394-41368e32e91e1c58&u=https://www.paalerts.com/.
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 closely watching as the storm develops and prepared to bring on additional personnel to minimize service disruptions, if they occur.
Utilities are prepared to respond 24 hours a day to utility service disruptions and are mandated to implement their emergency response plans, when needed, which includes performing proper messaging to alert customers to the expected frigid temperatures as well contacting customers on life-support equipment and other critical customers. Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the storm event.
Utilities can provide customers with storm and safety information or customers can call the Department's Call Center for information. The PSC Help Line can be reached by calling 1-800-342-3377.
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. State Police are also coordinating activities with state and local emergency response agencies.
Department of Environmental Conservation
Department of Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert, monitoring the developing situation, and actively patrolling areas likely to be impacted by the storm. All available assets, including snowmobiles and utility vehicles, are ready to assist with any emergency response.
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 is 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, 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 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.