January 4, 2017

Governor Cuomo Urges Caution for Lake Effect Winter Snow Storms Forecast in Western New York and the North Country

TOP Governor Cuomo Urges Caution for Lake Effect...

Governor Directs State Agencies to Deploy Resources to Respond to Storm 

Gusty Winds and Blowing Snow Will Create White-out Conditions and Make Driving Dangerous


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged residents to take the necessary steps to prepare for lake effect snow storms that will impact Western New York, the Tug Hill Plateau and Chautauqua Ridge regions of the state through Friday. There will also be strong wind gusts, which will combine with the falling snow and produce white out conditions and make driving extremely hazardous, especially for the evening commute tonight and the morning commute on Thursday. The Governor has directed the Office of Emergency Management, State Police, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, the Department of Transportation and the Thruway Authority to enhance monitoring and deploy resources.


"Western New York is welcoming the New Year with heavy snow and state agencies are deploying their resources and will be out in full force to keep roads clear and safe for travel," Governor Cuomo said. "I strongly urge New Yorkers in these regions to drive responsibly and be prepared."


Lake effect snows arrive from the east of Lakes Erie and Ontario and bring westerly winds increasing to 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph. This snow will persist through the start of the upcoming weekend. Highest amounts will fall across northern Chautauqua and Southern Erie counties which will see two to three feet of snow and the Tug Hill Plateau which will see over three feet of accumulation. Gusty winds will lead to hazardous traveling conditions and will severely reduce visibility. 


State Agency Resources

At the Governor’s direction, the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, the Department of Transportation and the Thruway Authority have already begun to plan accordingly for weather conditions. A number of resources and personnel have been dispatched to certain locations across the state.


The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is deploying one high axle vehicle, two-six person utility tracked vehicles and one-eight person tracked excursion with 14 staff to Syracuse to stand-by throughout event. Additionally, the New York State Emergency Operations Center will monitor the snow storms today through Friday and maintain contact with County Emergency Managers in the impacted regions.


The Thruway Authority’s winter weather preparations include a 24-hour staff rotation for maintenance personnel, snow removal equipment ready for deployment, and ample salt and fuel supplies to keep the roadways as navigable as possible. The Thruway Authority has more than 600 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 197 large snow plows, 139 medium snow plows and 54 loaders across the state with more than 110,000 tons of road salt on-hand. For this storm, the Thruway Authority is shifting resources west to increase snow operations in the affected regions. Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of winter weather conditions on the Thruway.


The New York State Thruway Authority encourages motorists to sign up for TRANSalert e-mails, which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway. Motorists can sign up for TRANSalerts here


Thruway travelers can also get real-time updates by following @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting http://www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.


The New York State Department of Transportation has more than 3,770 operators and supervisors statewide and is ready to respond with 1,497 large plow/dump trucks, 204 medium plow/dump trucks, 337 loaders, 46 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, 61 tow plows, 21 graders and 14 pickup trucks with plows. The Department of Transportation also has more than 396,000 tons of road salt on hand.


The New York State Police will deploy additional patrols during the storm, as well as Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Patrols to conduct safety checks of tractor trailers before they enter the affected areas.


Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511 or by accessing www.511ny.org before traveling. The 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.


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. 


Further emergency assistance and information on warming shelter locations is available through the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org/ny. If you do not own or have access to a computer, call 1-800-733-2767. Individuals can also contact their local County Emergency Management Office for the nearest warming station.


Weather Warnings

  • Lake Effect Snow Warning: Hamilton and Northern Herkimer counties until 1:00 p.m. Friday
  • Lake Effect Snow Warning: Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Southern Erie, Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego, and Wyoming Counties until 5:00 p.m. Friday



Weather Advisories

  • Lake Effect Snow Advisory: Southeastern Saint Lawrence, Southern Franklin and Western Essex counties until 10:00 am Thursday
  • Lake Effect Snow Advisory: Northern Erie County (mainly across the Buffalo Southtowns) until 6:00 p.m. Thursday
  • Wind Advisory: All of Western New York the Genesee Valley and Western Finger Lakes through overnight tonight
  • Wind Advisory: Eastern Lake Ontario and Northern Cayuga County through late Thursday morning
  • Wind Advisory: All of Northern New York including the Saint Lawrence Valley, Adirondacks, adjacent foothills and eastern slopes of the Adirondacks until 11:00 a.m. Thursday



Safety Precautions

All residents should have the following items available:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries. 
  • Battery-powered portable radio or NOAA Weather Radio to receive emergency information. The radio will allow you to listen to weather forecasts, information, and other emergency broadcasts by local authorities.
  • Seven to ten days’ supply of food. High-energy food, such as dried fruit or candy, and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration is best. Also stock an emergency supply of bottled water. The recommended amount is one gallon per person per day for 7 to 10 days.
  • A one-week supply of essential medicines and baby items.
  • First aid kit and supplies.
  • Extra blankets and sleeping bags.
  • Fire extinguisher and smoke detector – test regularly to ensure they are working properly.



Safety on the Road

Motorists are reminded 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 are urged to take extra precautions to account for the reduced speed and mobility of snowplows.


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.


Important steps for safe winter driving:


  • 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:

  • Battery Wipers and windshield washer fluid 
  • Antifreeze 
  • Ignition system 
  • Thermostat 
  • Lights 
  • Exhaust system 
  • Flashing hazard lights 
  • Heater 
  • Brakes 
  • Defroster 
  • 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 must keep their 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.
  • Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.
Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office