January 17, 2020
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Urges Caution as Significant Snowfall is Forecast for Much of New York Followed by Freezing Temperatures

TOP Governor Cuomo Urges Caution as Significant...

Tug Hill Plateau Section of North Country Could See Up to Two Feet of Snow

 

Most of North Country, as well as Northern Portions of Central New York, Mohawk Valley and Capital Regions and Southern Portion of Western New York May Experience Between Six Inches to More than One Foot of Snow

 

Heavy Snow May Make Driving Difficult; New Yorkers Urged to Avoid Any Unnecessary Travel, Monitor Weather and Obey All Emergency Orders

 

Freezing Temperatures to Follow

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to use caution throughout the next several days as forecasts are calling for significant snowfall throughout the state beginning Saturday afternoon. Most areas of upstate New York will see a widespread snowfall producing anywhere between three to five inches of snow, while portions of the North Country, Central New York, Mohawk Valley and Capital Regions could see between six inches and one foot of snow. Some areas, especially those in high terrain or lake effect areas, may see more snow, with up to two feet possible in the Tug Hill Plateau area of the North Country. These conditions are expected to create difficult driving conditions throughout the weekend. Following the snow, forecasts are calling for freezing temperatures to enter the state and remain for several days next week. The Governor urged New Yorkers to exercise caution throughout the next several days and to keep a close eye on local weather forecasts for developments.

"This storm system will deliver a significant amount of snow and strong wind gusts across many portions of the state, creating potentially dangerous driving conditions," Governor Cuomo said. "Our state emergency response teams are closely monitoring the forecast and I am urging New Yorkers to not only ready themselves for this weather, but also be sure to check on friends, family members and neighbors to ensure they are prepared as well."

On Saturday, a low pressure system will enter New York from the west and move eastward throughout the weekend. Temperatures will be very cold to start the day which will set the stage for widespread snow.  Expect a period of steady snowfall, mainly Saturday afternoon and evening, with snowfall rates in excess of one inch per hour in some areas and several inches of snow accumulated by early Saturday evening across much of the area. By Sunday, low pressure departing from northern New England towards Atlantic Canada may produce limited, additional wrap-around snow showers in high terrain and lake-enhanced areas. It will remain chilly, partly cloudy and breezy, with temps in the 20s and 30s, and gusts over 25 mph at times.

In terms of snow accumulation, the highest totals are forecast to be found in the Tug Hill Plateau area of the North Country with up to two feet possible. New Yorkers throughout the rest of the North Country, as well as the northern portions of the Central New York, Mohawk Valley, and Capital Regions, and the southern areas of Western New York, could experience anywhere between six inches to more than one foot of snow. Throughout the rest of upstate, a general three to five inches can be expected, with up to two inches forecast for New York City and Long Island.

The National Weather Service has already issued a number of Winter Weather Watches, Warnings and Advisories. To view the complete listing of watches, warnings, advisories, as well as access the latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website here.

Following the snow, forecasts are calling for freezing temperatures throughout the majority of the state for several days next week. New Yorkers should pay close attention to their local weather forecasts as they develop, so they can take the appropriate steps needed to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors.

Safety Tips

Safe Travel

The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, make sure 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 that snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 mph, 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.

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.
  • Make sure your car is stocked with 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.
  • While driving, keep vehicles clear of ice and snow.
  • Plan stops and keep distance between cars.  Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

It's important to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 mph, 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.

Cold Weather

Wind Chill Warnings are in effect for all regions in New York State, north of Rockland and Westchester Counties. They are expected to range from 10 below zero to 30 below zero. Wind Chill Advisories are in effect for the Rockland County, Westchester County, New York City, and Long Island where wind chills are expected to range from 15 to 20 below zero at times.

Temperatures as low as those forecast this weekend can cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes to exposed skin. Be 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 include:

Staying Warm Indoors

If your heat goes out during the cold weather, you can keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need. Dress in layers of lightweight clothing and wear a cap.

Protecting Water Pipes

To prevent the mess and aggravation of frozen water pipes, protect your home, apartment or business by following the simple steps below.

Before Cold Weather

  • Locate and insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing, typically those near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in the attic.
  • Wrap pipes with heat tape (UL approved).
  • Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
  • Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.

When It's Cold

  • Let hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to un-insulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall.
  • Make sure heat is left on and set no lower than 55 degrees.
  • If you plan to be away: (1) Have someone check your house daily to make sure the heat is still on to prevent freezing, or (2) drain and shut off the water system (except indoor sprinkler systems).

If Pipes Freeze

  • Make sure you and your family knows how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst. Stopping the water flow minimize the 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. 

Outdoor Safety:

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.

Frostbite First Aid

  • Until you can get indoors:
  • Don't rub or massage cold body parts.
  • Drink warm liquids.
  • Put on extra layers of clothes, blankets, etc.
  • Remove rings, watches, and anything tight.

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.

Be "Fire Safe"

Heating equipment is among the leading causes of home fires nationally and in New York State. Very often heating related fires are the result of a lack of maintenance or simple acts of carelessness. Nationally, an average of 45,900 home heating fires occurred each year from 2013-2015. These fires caused an annual average of approximately 205 deaths, 725 injuries and $506 million in property loss.

Taking a few simple steps can significantly reduce the possibility of experiencing a heating related fire. No matter how careful you are with home heating, you and your family should be prepared in case fire strikes.

  • Buy and carefully maintain a quality smoke and carbon monoxide detector.
  • Inspect your home to eliminate or control fire hazards.
  • Install at least 5-pound A-B-C type fire extinguishers in the home and teach family members how to use them.
  • Establish a well-planned escape route with the entire family.
  • Hold practice fire drills until all family members are thoroughly familiar with plan.
  • If you have an older home, have the wiring checked by a qualified electrician to make sure it meets current building codes.
  • Have your chimney and fireplace cleaned and inspected yearly for creosote build-up, cracks, crumbling bricks or mortar and any obstructions.
  • Keep storage areas clean and tidy.
  • Keep curtains, towels and pot holders away from hot surfaces.
  • Store solvents and flammable cleaners away from heat sources. NEVER keep gasoline in the house.
  • Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed wires or loose plugs.

Follow Proper Maintenance

Proper maintenance and an annual inspection of heat pumps, furnaces, space heaters, wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and chimney connections by qualified specialists can prevent fires and save lives. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation, venting, fueling, maintenance and repair.  Review the owner's manual to make sure you remember the operating and safety features.

  • Space Heaters - Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from furniture, window treatments, bedding, clothing, rugs, and other combustibles. Avoid the use of extension cords with electric heaters. Always turn off space heaters before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Fuel Burning Appliances -Inspect the shut off mechanism and wick for proper operation. Fill the tank with fresh fuel. Let the heater cool down before refueling. Adding fuel to a hot heater can start a dangerous fire.
  • Wood Burning Appliances and Fireplaces - Do not burn trash in the wood stove or fireplace. Burn only well-seasoned hardwoods. Be sure the fire you build fits your fireplace or stove, don't overload it. Be sure wood stoves are installed at least 36 inches away from the wall. Keep combustible materials well away from the fireplace, stove and chimney. Keep the area around them clean. Always use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from leaving the fireplace and starting a fire. Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Chimneys - Creosote accumulation is the leading cause of chimney fires. A chimney that is dirty, blocked or is in disrepair can inhibit proper venting of smoke up the flue and can also cause a chimney fire. Nearly all residential fires originating in the chimney are preventable. An annual chimney inspection by a qualified chimney sweep can prevent fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Ashes - Keep wood stoves and fireplaces free of excess ash buildup. Excessive ash buildup prevents good circulation of air needed for combustion. When removing ashes, use a metal container with a tight-fitting cover. Always place ashes in an outside location away from structures. Ashes that seem cool may contain a smoldering charcoal that can start a fire.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is produced anywhere that fuel is burned and is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. It is an odorless, tasteless and invisible killer, and the ONLY safe way to detect it is with a carbon monoxide alarm. Carbon monoxide alarms range in price from $20 to $50 depending on additional features.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sleepiness, headaches and dizziness. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, ventilate the area and get to a hospital. Other safety tips include:

  • Make sure chimneys and vents are checked for blockages, corrosion, and loose connections.
  • Open flues completely when fireplaces are in use.
  • Use proper fuel in space heaters.
  • Never burn charcoal or a barbecue grill inside a home or enclosed space.
  • Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, or vehicle
  • Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
  • Never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room where people are sleeping.
  • Never use the kitchen stove for heating a house.
  • Never run a gas powered generator in a garage, basement, or near any overhang on the home. Keep it at a distance

For more winter weather safety information, please visit the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info.

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