February 16, 2016

Governor Cuomo Urges Caution in Western and Central New York as Winter Storm Brings Snow and Ice to the Region

Governor Cuomo Urges Caution in Western and Central New York as Winter Storm Brings Snow and Ice to the Region

Monroe County issues travel advisory restrictions; avoid all unnecessary travel in Monroe County

Call 511 or check 511ny.org before traveling for roadway conditions

Governor Cuomo today urged Western and Central New York residents to exercise extreme caution when traveling today as snow and ice covered roads have caused several accidents and dangerous conditions on the roadways. Heavy snow will continue through late the afternoon before changing into freezing rain this evening with the greatest amounts from Rochester to Letchworth State Park. Heavy snow will result in difficult travel conditions and some roads may be impassable due to deep snow cover.

“I strongly recommend that everyone in the affected regions stay off the roadways in order to have them cleared as quickly as possible,” said Governor Cuomo. “We are aggressively responding to severe weather conditions and doing everything necessary to make sure the roads are plowed and residents are kept safe. I encourage all New Yorkers in these communities to avoid unnecessary travel and stay warm.”

Snow, freezing rain, and gusty winds are causing power outages statewide. Check your local utility for restoration times.

NYSDOT personnel and equipment in the Rochester region has been and continues to respond to the storm, including 300 operators and supervisors, 107 large dump truck/plows, 16 medium duty plows, 28 loaders, 3 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, and 8 tow plows. NYSDOT has more than 30,000 tons of salt on hand in the region.

NYSDOT is working cooperatively with the State Police and local law enforcement to remove vehicles that are currently stuck and will work quickly to clear the roadways when the vehicles are removed.

The New York State Thruway Authority continues snow removal operations with 161 operators, 60 large snow plows, 40 medium snow plows and 19 front-end loaders. The Thruway Authority has approximately 31,000 tons of road salt along the system in western New York.

Motorists are urged 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.

Motorists are also encouraged 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 thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.

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 or download the app on your smartphone at ialertz.com.

Safe Travel
It is important for motorists on all roads to note 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 and pedestrians should also keep in mind that snowplows travel slower than highway speeds and motorists should use caution when traveling near them. 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 winter driving include:

  • 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

Also be sure to:

  • 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.
  • 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 injuries and death during winter storms is transportation accidents.
Before getting behind the wheel this winter season, every driver could learn a lesson from our school bus drivers. It is elementary, but we have to keep our 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. Remember, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Moreover, always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

If caught in the storm and are unable to continue traveling:

  • Stay in your car and wait for help to find you.
  • Run your engine for short periods of time to stay warm. Keep your down-wind window open and make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow.
  • Turn on the dome light at night when you are running the engine to signal rescuers.
  • Hang a brightly colored piece of cloth or piece of clothing from your car.
  • Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.

If you lose power

  • If your heat goes out during a winter storm, you can keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need.
  • Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Dress in layers of lightweight clothing and wear a cap.
  • Eat well-balanced meals.

24/7 Utility Contact Numbers:

National Grid Electric
Phone (24/7): 1-800-867-5222

Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation
Phone (24/7): (845) 452-2700

KeySpan Energy, Inc. (National Grid)
Phone (24/7): (516) 824-8550

Long Island, National Grid Gas Emergency Dispatch
Phone (24/7): (516) 545-4047

NYC, National Grid Gas Emergency Dispatch
Phone (24/7): (718) 403-2920

Upstate New York, National Grid Gas Emergency Dispatch
Phone (24/7): (315) 460-2001

Consolidated Edison
Phone (24/7): (212) 460-4111

New York State Electric & Gas Corporation (NYSEG)
(24/7): (607) 762-4738

Algonquin Gas Transmission Company
Phone (24/7): (713) 627-4690

Iroquois Gas
Phone (24/7): (800) 888-3982

North Country Gas Pipeline
Phone (24/7): (800) 571-4833

Rochester Gas and Electric
Phone (24/7): (800) 743-1702

Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company
Phone (24/7): (800) 231-2800

Orange & Rockland
(24/7): (877) 434-4100

Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG)
(24/7): (516) 545-5310

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Albany Press Office: 518.474.8418

NYC Press Office: 212.681.4640