January 20, 2019
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Urges Caution Ahead of Arctic Blast, Frigid Temperatures and Subzero Wind Chill

Governor Cuomo Urges Caution Ahead of Arctic Blast, Frigid Temperatures and Subzero Wind Chill

Tractor-trailer and Bus Ban Lifted on NYS Thruway (I-87) South of Newburgh, I-287, I-684 and I-84

Frigid Temperatures and Wind Chill to Create Potentially Dangerous Outdoor Conditions Across New York State

Drivers Urged to Remain Off Roads as Plummeting Temperatures Cause Flash Freezing

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to prepare for potentially dangerous outdoor conditions as a strong arctic cold front is forecasted to impact the state. The front is expected to bring a wind chill that will push temperatures below zero degrees for most of New York. Additionally, the Governor announced that the travel bans for tractor-trailers and buses in New York State will be lifted on NYS Thruway (I-87) South of Newburgh, I-287, I-684 and I-84. As cold air moves in causing temperatures to dip below zero, drivers are urged to remain off the road as the threat of flash freezing becomes increasingly dangerous.

"Once again Mother Nature has tested New York, and our preparation for this storm is why we've made the progress we've made," Governor Cuomo said. "While conditions have improved enough to lift the travel ban for tractor-trailers and buses on portions of the Thruway, we continue to monitor the frigid temperatures moving across the state and I am urging New Yorkers to refrain from going outside over the next couple days unless absolutely necessary."

Weather Forecast

Extremely cold air has now swept across the state; with wind chills of 25 to 35 below zero forecast upstate through Monday afternoon. This arctic blast is of significant concern in the Lower Hudson Valley where the dropping temperatures are likely to cause flash freezing on roads.

This complex winter storm left a general 10 to 15 inches of snow upstate with some areas in the Adirondacks reaching 20 inches of accumulation, followed by heavy rain in the south. Gusty winds through tonight may lead to areas of blowing and drifting snow resulting in reduced visibility and snow-covered roadways.

Truck and Bus Ban

Governor Cuomo directed the New York State Department of Transportation and the Thruway Authority to lift the travel ban for tractor-trailers and buses on I-87 south of I-84. The ban went into effect beginning 3:00 p.m. on Saturday as winter storm Harper impacted travel across the entire state.

Power Outages

Currently, there are 1,025 customers without power as a result of the storm. Of that, more than 600 of the outages are centered in Sullivan, Kings and Orange Counties. New York's utilities have a total of more than 5,000 workers and contractors working on storm restoration efforts. This total includes over 700 contractors obtained through mutual assistance. Con Edison has 608 line and tree workers on hand, Central Hudson has 229 line and tree workers on hand; PSEG Long Island has 980 line and tree workers; National Grid has 1510 line and tree workers on hand, NYSEG and RG&E have 1250 line and tree workers on hand, and O&R has 453 line and tree workers on hand.

State Agency Response

New York's Division of Military and Naval Affairs

The New York National Guard has activated an additional 100 service members, increasing the total of personnel available to assist through the state to 550. The soldiers remain prepared to provide assistance to local governments with four-wheel drive vehicles if necessary.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services continues coordinating with state agencies and local governments to ensure resources from the State's ten regional stockpiles are available for deployment throughout the storm. Staff remains in the State EOC and regional personnel are responding to any issues as necessary.

Department of Public Service

The Department of Public Service remains in contact with utility senior executives to ensure that the utilities are responding swiftly to utility service disruptions cause by the inclement weather.

New York's utilities have over 5,000 workers available for restoration efforts. The utilities are on alert and are closely watching as the storm continues and will deploy restoration crews where needed. Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the remainder of 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.

The Department expanded its Call Center Helpline hours 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 of Environmental Conservation

More than 180 DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs), Forest Rangers, and Emergency Management staff, in addition to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, Executive Staff, and Regional Directors, are on alert and ready to deploy to communities impacted by heavy snow, freezing rain, and strong winds. All available assets, including 50 snowmobiles and operators, have been deployed to staging areas and are ready to assist with any emergency response.

New York State 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 118,000 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.

New York State Department of Transportation

Department of Transportation plow operators, supervisors and other staff have been fully engaged since before the storm began. Plow drivers were out all night, working 12 hour shifts to remove snow and ice from state roads across New York. Many New Yorkers heeded warnings to stay off the road, which made it easier for plows to clear snow. As the storm decreases in intensity today, the Department will continue its snow and ice operations and will work with state partners to closely monitor the situation over the coming days, which may include potential icy conditions.

Statewide, there are currently 1,609 large plow trucks in use, which includes 100 reserves. In addition, the Department has 19 graders, 326 large loaders, 186 medium duty plows, 19 pickup trucks with plows, 39 snow blowers and 31 tractor-trailers. Thirty heavy and light tow trucks are being staged across the state to help clear accidents quickly. More than 34,500 tons of salt have been used already to respond to the storm, with nearly 420,000 tons of salt still on hand. Nearly 3,900 operators and supervisors are deployed and responding to this snow and ice event.

New York State Police

The New York State Police will continue with enhanced patrol coverage statewide through the duration of the storm and beyond, if necessary. All 4x4 patrol vehicles have been deployed, and specialty vehicles, including snowmobiles and Utility Task Vehicles, are staged and ready for deployment as needed. Since the start of the storm, Troopers have responded to more than 600 crashes statewide and ticketed 59 commercial vehicle operators for violating the tractor-trailer ban on interstate highways.

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 its facilities, including airports. The main Emergency Operations Center in Jersey City, which oversees all Port Authority facilities and their respective EOCs, will remain activated throughout the day and evening on Sunday and will continue to monitor conditions throughout the region with specific attention to icing and other impacts caused by the extreme cold temperatures. Some airlines have cancelled flights at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airports, and all passengers are encouraged to check with their carriers and leave extra travel time.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The MTA reminds customers to use extra precaution when on platforms and walkways, and recommends all customers sign up for real-time service updates via email and text message at MyMTAAlerts.com to be advised of any changes of service.

The MTA is working to ensure continuity of service across all MTA agencies and has the following pieces of equipment available to combat the storm: 803 portable snow-blowers; 679 portable generators; 270 truck-mountable snow plows and salt spreaders; 30 variable message signs; 23 weather stations; 28 backhoe loaders; 25 excavators; 124 forklifts; 128 front-loaders; More than 19 million pieces of de-Icing material, 10,000 gallons of ethanol fuel, more than 53,000 gallons of gas; and more than 800,000 gallons of diesel; 283,000 sandbags; 3 debris-clearing trains, 12 de-icer trains; 94 diesel trains; 16 jet engine-powered blowers/snow melters More than 13,000 third-rail heaters/melters (remote & manual), 1,327 track switch heaters/melters; 646 chainsaws; 149 compressors; 123 light towers; 218 torches; 149 box/bread trucks; 69 bucket trucks; 19 car-carrier trailers; 10 cold-air rail snow blowers; 120 dump trucks; 42 emergency response vehicles or road service trucks; 3 fuel tanker trucks; 56 wrecker/tow trucks.

MTA New York City Transit

New York City Transit is frequently "test operating" outdoor switches, remotely activating third rail heaters system-wide, and activating switch and train stop heaters. Crews are sanding and salting station platforms and stairs. Three diesel trains are being used as de-icers. All buses that are operating are using snow chains or all-weather tires.

MTA Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road

Both railroads are working to ensure the third rails will be clear of snow and ice. For the LIRR, this means preparing deicer trains to circulate throughout the LIRR's electrified territory - which is electrified with under-running third rail - to apply a deicing agent to the third rail, which reduces the potential for ice to build up on third rail. For Metro-North, crews have equipped trains with scraper shoes to scrape any ice that generates on their under-running third rail.

Both railroads have pre-positioned locomotives and crews to be able to attend to any trains that encounter weather-related problems and have added staff to respond to weather-related issues such as downed trees, limbs and wires, address station snow removal and pre-salt platforms as needed, and to ensure robust real-time communications with customers. The railroads have fueled, inspected and tested storm-fighting equipment such as chain saws, generators and tree trimmers. Switch heaters and third rail heaters are activated, and switch covers are in place to prevent buildup of snow and ice on switches.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels

MTA Bridges and tunnels is ensuring appropriate staffing to ensure efficient deployment of personnel and resources. Electronic weather sensors are functional and all facilities have the ability to monitor weather and roadway conditions. Off-property and on-property areas that have proven to be historically prone to flooding have been checked and are reported to be free and clear of debris and other obstructions. Equipment and supplies (including de-icers, snow trucks with plows, facility generators, fuel, hand-held anemometers, etc.) have been checked and are at adequate levels for response and deployment to storm related issues.

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.


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.


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.

Power Outage Safety

Governor Cuomo urges residents to stay away from any lines that are down as they may be live, and should be considered extremely dangerous. Motorists are reminded that State Law mandates that if an intersection is "blacked out" and the traffic signal is not operational, the intersection is automatically a "four way" stop. In the event of closed or blocked roadways due to flooding, downed power lines or debris, motorists are advised to exercise caution and obey all traffic signs or barricades in place, regardless of whether a roadway looks clear.

New Yorkers should also check on friends, family and neighbors, especially the elderly. Power outages can affect the ability of individuals to heat their homes, which could lead to dangerously cold temperatures in the winter months.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640