February 5, 2020
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Urges Caution as Winter Storm System is Expected to Create Difficult Driving Conditions Thursday and Friday

TOP Governor Cuomo Urges Caution as Winter Storm...

Snow, Rain and Wintery Mix May Make Travel Hazardous

State Agencies on Alert and Preparing to Clear Roadways for Thursday Morning and Friday Evening Commutes

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to use caution while traveling over the next several days as a large winter weather system is forecast to bring snow, rain and a wintery mix across much of the state. The system is expected to move in late Wednesday evening and continue impacting New York in two waves until early Saturday morning. The snow, rain and wintery mix caused by this system are expected to create difficult driving conditions, especially during the Thursday morning and Friday evening commutes. Not only should New Yorkers exercise caution while traveling throughout the next several days, but it's important to keep a close eye on local weather forecasts for further developments as storm conditions have the potential to rapidly change.

"Our state agencies have been closely monitoring this impending storm and are ready to deploy any necessary assets to keep the roads clear and respond to any potential emergencies," Governor Cuomo said. "This storm is expected to cause difficult driving conditions, and I am urging all New Yorkers to slow down and use extra caution during their Thursday and Friday commutes."

As the system enters New York Wednesday evening from the west, forecasts are calling for a widespread wintery mix across the state except in New York City, where only rain is expected, and in the North Country, where only snow is expected. Most of the state will continue to experience some form of precipitation throughout Thursday into early Saturday morning, with temperatures and elevations playing a role in determining which areas get snow, rain or a wintery mix. By the time the storm exits the state Saturday morning, most of the state will have experienced up to 2 to 4 inches of snow with between 4 to 6 inches possible in the Capital Region and northern Mohawk Valley Regions, and 6 to 12 inches possible in the northern portions of Central New York, the Finger Lakes and Western New York Regions. Ice accumulation will generally be less than a tenth of an inch and rainfall amounts will generally be less than a half inch.

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

Agency Preparations

Department of Transportation

The State Department of Transportation is prepared to respond with 3,783 supervisors and operators available statewide. Regional crews are currently engaged in snow and ice preparations. All residency locations will be staffed for 24/7 operation throughout the duration of the event. Fleet mechanics in affected areas will be staffing all main residency locations 24/7 to perform repairs and keep trucks on the road. 

All available equipment is ready to deploy. Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 1604 large plow trucks
  • 182 medium duty plows
  • 52 tow plows
  • 328 large loaders
  • 40 snow blowers

In addition, 11 long reach excavators are staged strategically throughout the State to support potential responses to ice jams.

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 699 operators and supervisors ready to deploy 246 large snow plows, 103 medium snow plows, 11 tow plows and 63 loaders across the state with more than 123,000 tons of road salt on hand. Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media will be utilized to alert motorists of winter weather conditions on the Thruway.

The Thruway Authority is also encouraging motorists to download its mobile app which is available 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 here

Department of Environmental Conservation

Department of Environmental Conservation DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and actively patrolling areas and infrastructure likely to be impacted by severe weather. All available assets are positioned ready to assist with any emergency response.

New York State Police

The New York State Police has instructed all Troopers to closely monitor conditions for any problems. State Police will be ready to deploy additional personnel to affected areas as needed.  All four-wheel drive vehicles are in-service and all specialty vehicles, including snowmobiles and utility vehicles, are staged and ready for deployment.

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation

New York State Park Police and park personnel are on alert and closely monitoring weather conditions and impacts. Response equipment is being fueled, tested and prepared for storm response use. Park visitors should check parks.ny.gov or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.

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.

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Contact the Governor's Press Office