Several Upstate Regions to Experience Up to 24 Inches of Snow and Ice
Snow, Ice and Strong Winds to Create Hazardous Driving Conditions During Tuesday Evening and Wednesday Morning Commutes
State Emergency Operations Center Will Activate to Enhanced Monitoring Mode
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to prepare for heavy snow, ice and high winds as a complex winter storm system is expected to impact New York beginning early Tuesday morning through Wednesday. The storm will move through the state from the south bringing snow that will mix with—or change to—freezing rain and sleet as the day progresses. The system is expected to produce anywhere from a couple of inches of snow and sleet in the southern regions of the state to up to 24 inches of precipitation in the North Country. During these storms, New Yorkers should also expect to see slippery road conditions, as well as blowing and drifting snow during the Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning commutes. Drivers are being urged to practice extreme caution while traveling.
"As we prepare for another statewide winter storm, I am urging New Yorkers to be ready for dangerous driving conditions and stay clear of snow plows and other response vehicles," Governor Cuomo said. "We are actively monitoring the storm and are prepared to deploy assets as needed to ensure New York's roadways are kept as clear and safe as possible."
The snow will start early Tuesday morning in the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions, and move east throughout the day, with snowfall rates of one inch per hour expected at the height of the event. Ice pellets are expected to develop and impact the Southern Tier, as well as parts of the Mohawk Valley and Capital Region in the afternoon mixing with freezing rain expected later in the evening and through the night. Moving north from the I-90 corridor, snow fall will increase and reach up to 24 inches in the Tug Hill Plateau portion of the North Country. In addition to the snow and ice, winds have the potential to pick up to 35 mph along the coast and 25 mph for inland locations, leading to blowing and drifting snowfall at times.
Snowfall totals are expected to reach one to four inches in New York City and Long Island; four to seven inches in the Mid-Hudson Valley, Western New York and Finger Lakes regions; eight to 12 inches in the Capital Region, Mohawk Valley, Central New York and Southern Tier; and up to 24 inches in the North Country. In addition to the snow, some areas could also experience up to a quarter inch of ice by the time the storm ends.
New Yorkers should pay close attention to local weather reports for the latest information. Several Winter Weather Advisories, Watches and Warnings have already been issued by the National Weather Service and New Yorkers are encouraged to stay informed throughout the duration of the storm. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will coordinate with state agencies and local governments to ensure resources from the State's ten regional stockpiles are available for deployment throughout the weather event. Staff at the State Emergency Operations Center and regional personnel are prepared to respond to any issues as necessary.
Department of Transportation
The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 1,504 large plow trucks, an additional 95 activated reserve plows, 20 graders, 326 large loaders, 185 medium duty plow trucks, 35 snow blowers and 32 tractor trailers. The Department has more than 410,000 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. The Department has also deployed an additional 50 portable variable message signs to enhance storm messaging to the public on key corridors throughout the state.
The Department is deploying additional assets as follows:
- The Capital Region will receive five plow trucks, 10 operators and one supervisor from Long Island
- The Mohawk Valley will receive five plow trucks, 10 operators and one supervisor from Long Island
- The North Country will receive eight plow trucks, 16 operators and three supervisors from the Southern Tier
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 Governor also recently announced that the State Department of Transportation launched a new public education campaign to promote safe driving in winter conditions. A new website, videos and social media campaign will encourage motorists to drive safely in snow and ice conditions, and urge drivers to give snow plows enough space to operate safely.
The Thruway Authority has 667 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 244 Large Snow Plows, 126 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 56 Loaders across the state with more than 118,000 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 at 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.
Snowplows travel at about 35 miles per hour — which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit — in order to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. The safest place for motorists is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.
Department of Public Service
The Department of Public Service is in contact with utility senior executives to ensure that the utilities are prepared for inclement weather, and it will be closely monitoring utility storm-preparation efforts to ensure that utilities stand ready to minimize outages and speed outage restorations. Electric and gas utilities, as well as telecommunication service providers, such as Verizon, are closely watching as the storm develops and prepared to bring on additional personnel to minimize service disruptions, if they occur.
Utilities are prepared to respond 24 hours a day to utility service disruptions and are mandated to implement their emergency response plans, when needed, which includes performing proper messaging to alert customers to the expected frigid temperatures as well contacting customers on life-support equipment and other critical customers. Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the storm event.
Utilities can provide customers with storm and safety information or customers can call the Department's Call Center for information. The PSC Help Line can be reached by calling 1-800-342-3377.
New York State Police
State Police are prepared to deploy additional Troopers as needed to affected areas. All State Police specialized vehicles including four-wheel drive vehicles, snowmobiles, and Utility Task Vehicles are staged and ready for immediate response. State Police are also coordinating activities with state and local emergency response agencies.
Department of Environmental Conservation
Department of Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert, monitoring the developing situation, and actively patrolling areas likely to be impacted by the storm. All available assets, including snowmobiles and utility vehicles, are ready to assist with any emergency response.
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 is 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, set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
- If you have a cell phone or other communications device such as a 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.
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 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.