Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to prepare for multiple storm systems that are forecasted to bring significant snowfall as well as bitter cold and dangerously low wind chills. The first system will move into the state Thursday afternoon and will blanket much of upstate in snow, while the southern Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island regions should expect more of a wintery mix. On Saturday, a second system is forecasted to bring another round of significant snowfall throughout the majority of the state. During these storms, New Yorkers should also expect to experience slippery road conditions, as well as blowing and drifting snow during the Thursday evening and Friday morning commutes and over the course of the weekend. Drivers are being urged to travel only when necessary and to do so with extreme caution.
"While New Yorkers are no strangers to snow, I am urging everyone to be cautious over the next several days as current forecasts are calling for the most significant snowfall so far this winter," Governor Cuomo said. "All of New York's transportation and public safety agencies are monitoring these storms closely and are prepared to immediately assist any community that needs help."
Beginning Thursday afternoon, the first of two storm systems will move into the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions before spreading across the entire State during the evening hours. A general two to five inches of snow can be expected throughout much of Upstate, while the Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island regions should expect a winter mix. By Friday morning, the precipitation will begin tailing off from west to east.
On Saturday afternoon, a second storm with significant snowfall is expected to begin moving west to east across the state, with the heaviest snow potential at this time projected to be Saturday evening through mid-day Sunday. As the storm progresses, snow will transition to rain in the Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island regions as a system of warm air is expected to move in.
Given that the bulk of these systems are still days away, specific forecasts are still being refined. While there are currently no warnings, watches or advisories posted by the National Weather Service, the State Emergency Operations Center has also been activated to enhanced monitoring mode out of an abundance of caution. New Yorkers should pay close attention to their local weather reports to stay updated with the latest information. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.
The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 1,580 large plow trucks, 50 tow plows, 324 large loaders, 40 snowblowers, 20 graders, 197 medium duty and pickup trucks with plows, 33 tractor trailers and more than 430,000 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.
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 Thruway Authority has 663 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 244 Large Snow Plows, 128 Medium Snow Plows, 9 Tow Plows and 58 Loaders across the state with more than 116,000 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.
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.
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
- 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.