February 19, 2020
Albany, NY

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

TOP Governor Cuomo Urges Caution as Winter Storm...

Lake Effect System Expected to Produce Several Inches of Snow Overnight

 

State Agencies on Alert and Clearing Roadways for Wednesday Evening and Thursday Morning Commutes

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to use caution while traveling tonight and tomorrow morning as a winter weather system is forecast to bring lake effect snow to areas south and southeast of Lake Ontario. The highest expected totals are forecast for southern Oswego County, Syracuse and the Utica/Rome area with totals up to 10 inches expected in some places, while portions of Central New York, the Finger Lakes and the Mohawk Valley may see 1 to 2 inches from this storm.  New Yorkers are urged to exercise caution as driving conditions will be extremely difficult at times in these areas.

 

"Lake effect snow will quickly move across portions of upstate New York tonight and tomorrow and I urge New Yorkers to be prepared and use caution when driving during reduced visibility and high winds," Governor Cuomo said. "We are actively monitoring these weather systems and our agencies are already preparing roadways and will deploy additional resources to assist our local partners as needed."

 

A Winter Storm Watch is currently in effect from this evening through Thursday afternoon for areas near Lake Ontario in the Central NY, Finger Lakes and Mohawk Valley regions, including Cayuga, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego and Wayne counties. The heaviest snow will fall overnight into Thursday morning, with snowfall rates exceeding 1 to 2 inches per hour at times.  Travel will likely be very difficult, especially during this evening and the Thursday morning commute, with snow-covered roads and poor visibility expected.

 

The National Weather Service has already issued Winter Storm Watches. To view the complete listing of 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 3,813 operators and supervisors available.  Statewide assets are as follows:

  • 1,602 large plow trucks
  • 329 large loaders
  • 182 medium plow trucks
  • 51 tow plows
  • 40 snowblowers
  • 19 graders

 

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 703 operators and supervisors ready to deploy 245 Large Snow Plows, 110 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 63 Loaders across the state with more than 116,000 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 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

DEC 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 and is prepared 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 Historic Preservation

New York State Park Police and park personnel are on alert and closely monitoring weather conditions and impacts. 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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