February 11, 2016

Governor Cuomo Urges Caution Ahead of Dangerously Cold Temperatures Forecasted This Weekend

Governor Cuomo Urges Caution Ahead of Dangerously Cold Temperatures Forecasted This Weekend

Lake effect snow bands could also bring two feet of snow to areas northeast of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario

Governor Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to exercise caution ahead of dangerously cold temperatures forecasted for many areas of the state this weekend. The National Weather Service is predicting that temperatures will reach highs in the single digits and wind chill temperatures will drop to the negative teens and twenties on Saturday. The North Country in particular is predicted to see temperatures on Saturday as low as -8 degrees and wind chills dropping to -40 degrees. The temperature in New York has not been this low since February 2015. Additionally, as much as two feet of lake effect snow is forecasted for parts of Western and Central New York.

“As severe winter weather blankets the state this weekend, I encourage all New Yorkers to stay safe and remain indoors,” Governor Cuomo said. “This administration is taking every measure to protect the public safety and as temperatures drop below zero, New Yorkers should exercise caution and avoid all unnecessary travel.”

The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill watch for all counties in Upstate New York, as well as Northern Westchester, Orange, Putnam and Rockland Counties. Conditions are favorable for wind chill temperatures to meet or exceed local wind chill warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours. Wind chill temperatures may reach or exceed -25 degrees. A wind chill index below -30 degrees can cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes. Outdoor exposure should be limited. Dangerously low temperatures are also expected in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

The National Weather Service has issued a lake effect snow advisory for parts of Western and Central New York. The heaviest snow is predicted to be off Lake Erie between Buffalo and Batavia, and off Lake Ontario around Watertown and Fort Drum. These locations may see as much as two feet of snow through Friday evening. Gusty winds and blowing snow will reduce visibility on the roads in the heavier snow bands. The State is closely monitoring the system and will take action as necessary, including dispatching additional plow equipment and closing roads if needed. Drivers should check road conditions before heading outdoors.

Governor Cuomo reminded New Yorkers to make sure they are prepared by keeping ample emergency supplies in their home and vehicles. If you are heading outdoors, dress in layers and keep your hands and head covered to protect against frostbite.Other safety tips are below.

Safety Tips:


To avoid frostbite, stay inside during severe cold. If you must go out, try to cover every part of your body: ears, nose, toes and fingers, etc. Mittens are better than gloves. Keep your skin dry. Stay out of the wind when possible. Drink plenty of fluids since hydration increases the blood's volume, which helps prevent frostbite. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes. Caffeine constricts blood vessels, preventing warming of your extremities. Alcohol reduces shivering, which helps keep you warm. Cigarette use shuts off the blood flow to your hands.

Degrees of Frostbite

  • First degree: ice crystals forming on your skin
  • Second degree: Skin begins to feel warm, even though it is not yet defrosted.
  • Third degree: Skin turns red, pale or white.
  • Fourth degree: Pain lasts for more than a few hours and skin may develop dark blue or black. See a doctor immediately if these symptoms arise. Gangrene is a real threat.

First Aid - Until You Can Get Indoors

  • Don't rub or massage cold body parts.
  • Put your hands in your armpits.
  • Hold onto another person or animal.
  • Drink warm liquids.
  • Put on extra layers of clothes, blankets, etc.
  • Remove rings, watches, and anything tight.

First Aid - Once Indoors

  • Don't walk on a frostbitten foot. You could cause more damage.
  • Get in a warm, NOT hot, bath and wrap your face and ears in a moist, warm, NOT hot, towel.
  • Don't get near a hot stove or heater or use a heating pad, hot water bottle, or a hair dryer. You may burn yourself before feeling returns.
  • Frostbitten skin will become red and swollen and feel like it's on fire. You may develop blisters. Don't break the blisters. It could cause scarring.
  • If your skin turns blue or gray, is very swollen, blistered or feels hard and numb even under the surface, go to a hospital immediately.

Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, especially in children and the elderly. Watch for the following symptoms: inability to concentrate, poor coordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, exhaustion, and/or uncontrollable shivering, following 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.

Frozen Pipes

Prevent pipes from freezing by turning on both hot and cold water faucets slightly, preferably in a basement sink – running water will not freeze as quickly. Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to non-insulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall. If you plan to leave your residence, drain and shut off the water system (except indoor sprinkler systems).

If your pipes burst, make sure you and your family knows how to shut off the water. Stopping water flow minimizes damage to your home. Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent. Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch. Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.

Fire Safety

Alternate sources of home heating are a major cause of winter residential fires. Make sure all levels of your home have a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm and check it on a monthly basis.

  • Always keep a screen around an open flame.
  • Never use gasoline to start your fireplace.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors.
  • Do not close the damper when ashes are hot.
  • When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, woodstove, etc. always make sure you have proper ventilation. Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces.
  • Have your chimney checked before the season for creosote buildup -- and then clean it.
  • Establish a well-planned escape route with the entire family.

Kerosene Heaters

If you use kerosene heaters to supplement your regular heating fuel, or as an emergency source of heat, follow these safety tips:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Use only the correct fuel for your unit.
  • Refuel outdoors ONLY and only when the unit is cool.
  • Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.
  • When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Albany Press Office: 518.474.8418

NYC Press Office: 212.681.4640