December 14, 2016
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Urges Caution for Lake Effect Winter Snow Storms Forecast in Western, Northern New York

TOP Governor Cuomo Urges Caution for Lake Effect...

Governor Directs State Agencies to Deploy Resources in Advance of Storm

Hazardous Driving Conditions Expected Through Saturday Due to Slick Roads and Low Visibility

Frigid Temperatures Expected Across Upstate New York; New Yorkers Encouraged to Seek Warming Shelters Over Next Several Days

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged residents to begin taking the necessary steps to prepare for lake effect snow and snow storms that will impact parts of Western and Northern New York through Saturday morning. The Governor also 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 to enhance monitoring and prepare to deploy resources.

"With frigid temperatures and significant snowfall on the way, I urge New Yorkers to take appropriate precautions now to stay safe," Governor Cuomo said. "We are actively tracking these storms and will use every resource at our disposal to keep our roads clear and motorists out of harm’s way. I strongly urge New Yorkers in these regions to drive responsibly and be prepared."

Current forecasts call for 12-18 inches of snow in portions of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties, and possibly 18-24 inches of snow in the Tug Hill Plateau of Lewis County. In addition to high snowfall amounts in regions of the state, meteorologists expect temperatures in the teens on Thursday and Friday with single digits overnight.

Gusty winds will lead to dangerously cold wind chills, impacting Upstate New York Thursday night into Friday, and strong winds will result in wind chill values nearing 30 degrees below zero across the Adirondacks. Furthermore, hazardous traveling conditions from snowfall is expected to severely reduce visibility.

State Agency Resources

At the Governor’s direction, the New York 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.

In addition, the New York State Emergency Operations Center will monitor the snow storms today through Friday and maintain contact with County Emergency Managers in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties in western New York, as well as in Oswego, Lewis and Jefferson counties east of Lake Ontario.

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 201 large snow plows, 137 medium snow plows and 53 loaders across the state with more than 112,500 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 3,700 operators and supervisors statewide and are ready to respond with 1,470 large plow/dump trucks, 202 medium plow/dump trucks, 335 loaders, 46 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, 61 tow plows, 20 graders and 15 pickup trucks with plows. The Department of Transportation also has more than 427,000 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.

Lake Effect Snow Forecasts

Lake effect snows will develop off Lakes Erie and Ontario this afternoon. The southwest system will result in the lake snows having an impact on the afternoon and evening commute today, across Western, Central and Northwestern New York.

Off Lake Erie, the snow at rush hour will extend across the Buffalo metro area, along the New York State Thruway from Buffalo east to the Rochester Leroy exit, and the western sections of the Rochester metro area.

Off Lake Ontario, the snow at will extend across the Watertown and Fort Drum area. Shifting winds will begin to move the snow south during the evening. Lake snows are expected to settle and remain over the Chautauqua Ridge (Chautauqua and Cattaraugus), off Lake Erie and the Tug Hill Plateau (Lewis County), off Lake Ontario through Thursday.


Weather Warnings

  • Lake Effect Snow Warning: Northern Herkimer and Hamilton Counties until 1:00 a.m. Friday.
  • Lake Effect Snow Warning: Genesee, Northern Erie Counties until 1:00 a.m. Thursday
  • Lake Effect Snow Warning: Wyoming, Southern Erie Counties until 7:00 p.m. Thursday
  • Lake Effect Snow Warning: Jefferson, Lewis Counties until 1:00 a.m. Friday
  • Lake Effect Snow Warning: Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, and Oswego Counties until 7:00 a.m. Friday

Weather Watches

  • Lake Effect Snow Watch: Oneida County until 7:00 a.m. Friday.
  • Wind Chill Watch: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, and St. Lawrence Counties until 11:00 a.m. Friday

Weather Advisories

  • Lake Effect Snow Advisory: Southern Herkimer County until 1:00 a.m. Friday
  • Lake Effect Snow Advisory: Niagara County until 7:00 p.m. Today
  • Lake Effect Snow Advisory: Monroe, Orleans Counties until 1:00 a.m. Thursday
  • Lake Effect Snow Advisory: St. Lawrence County until 7:00 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.

Frostbite

  • 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.
  • 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