Two Severe Weather Systems Approaching New York from the North and South
Blizzard Conditions Expected to Create Dangerous Driving Conditions on Long Island
Governor will Activate State Emergency Operations Center to Level 4 Enhanced Monitoring on Thursday
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he will activate the State Emergency Operations Center at a Level 4 enhanced monitoring to track potentially dangerous winter storm conditions from two different low-pressure systems - one approaching from the north and the other affecting coastal areas - as well as frigid temperatures that will overspread the state through this weekend. The coastal system is expected to bring 7 to 12 inches of snow to Long Island over the next 5 days, primarily in Suffolk County. The system will also create blizzard conditions that could lead to blowing snow and whiteouts on roadways. The northern system is expected to bring 8-10 inches of snow in the typical lake effect snow areas of upstate.
"New York is no stranger to severe winter weather and this time we are facing two systems at once," said Governor Cuomo. "We have assets and personnel deployed throughout the state and we are ready to respond when and where it is needed. I ask all New Yorkers to stay informed, stay safe and make sure you prepare for cold and snow."
Dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills will continue through the weekend and wind chill watches will remain in effect for all of Upstate New York. Low pressure systems to the north and moving up the Atlantic coast will bring snow across all of New York State today through the weekend. A winter storm warning has been issued for Suffolk County from 1 a.m. Thursday through 1 a.m. Friday. Winter storm watches have been issued for New York City and Nassau County from 1 a.m. Thursday to 11 p.m. Thursday.
In the Long Island Region, Suffolk County is expected to see the highest accumulations from the coastal system with anywhere from 7 to 12 inches over the next 5 days with Nassau county as well as New York City forecast to receive from 3 to 6 inches of snow, with a potential for 6 inches or more, late tonight through Thursday. The balance of the State can expect generally from 3 to 8 inches through the weekend.
The typical lake effect snow regions of the Chautauqua Ridge in Western New York and Tug Hill Plateau in the North Country will see the highest amounts of snow accumulations from the northern system (generally 8-10 inches of accumulation over the 5 days).
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
Governor Cuomo will activate the New York State Emergency Operations Center Thursday morning to a Level 4 enhanced monitoring mode with State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services - Office of Emergency Management staff.
State OEM is prepared to respond to requests for assistance with assets from its stockpiles, including 678 generators, 235 light towers, 909 pumps, 9 sandbaggers, more than 930,000 sandbags, more than 46,700 ready-to-eat meals, almost 70,000 bottles and 312,000 cans of water, almost 9,000 cots, more than 11,000 blankets and pillows, nearly 4,000 flashlights, 960 traffic barriers, 594 traffic barrels, and 6,800 feet of aqua dam.
The Thruway Authority has 667 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 246 large snow plows, 113 medium snow plows, 10 tow plows and 52 loaders across the state with more than 101,000 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 here. 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 Transportation
The New York State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with more than 1,555 large plow/dump trucks, 205 medium plow/dump trucks, 325 loaders, 39 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, 52 tow plows, 20 graders and 14 pickup trucks with plows. DOT also has nearly 366,000 tons of road salt on hand. DOT continues to monitor weather forecasts and stands ready to shift resources as necessary to any areas of the state anticipating significant weather conditions.
Governor Cuomo recently announced the State Department of Transportation's acquisition of 44 Two-Stage Plows that clear snow and ice from the roads more efficiently. A second plow located directly behind the main plow blade will conform to the road surface, removing more snow to better clean the road surface and allow for reduced salt usage. The new plows will be located strategically across the State and will be used at targeted locations where less salt use is preferred due to environmental factors.
Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511, or visiting www.511ny.org before traveling. The free service allows users to check road conditions and transit information. Mobile users can download the free 511NY mobile app from the iTunes or Google Play stores. The app 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.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
MTA Bridges & Tunnels
The MTA's bridges are equipped with embedded roadway sensors for temperature and above-ground atmospheric sensors that deliver real-time information on wind velocity, wind direction, humidity and precipitation via wireless communication. These sensors record data used to determine if speed restrictions are necessary. Managerial staff will be activated, the Command Center is prepared to operate their weather desks, and all equipment and supplies have been prepared for deployment. Bridges and Tunnels has 8,540 tons of roadway deicer and 106 pieces of snow-fighting equipment in service and available for storm fighting operations, including conveyor trucks, pay loaders, front loaders and plows.
Long Island Rail Road
The LIRR anticipates running normal service, as conditions warrant. As safety is a top priority of the LIRR, staff will monitor the storm as it progresses and make any adjustments necessary.
The LIRR will be taking preventative measures to deal with snow accumulation, including the activation of equipment heaters and deployment of de-icing equipment. Switch heaters will be used to keep rail switches moving freely so trains can be routed from one track to another. Anti-freeze trains also will operate as needed to help prevent icing on the third rail and ensure that electric trains can draw power properly. Station waiting rooms have remained open to the public around the clock due to the cold and will remain available to the riding public until Monday, January 8, when regular station waiting room hours will resume.
The LIRR has at the ready several different types of equipment during storms to ensure safe travel and operations, including 1 million pounds of de-icer, 25 cubic yards of sand, three cold-air snow blowers/throwers, four de-icer trains, nine rail-bound jet blowers/snow melters, 12,000 third-rail heaters/melters, 108 track switch heaters/snow melters, two rail-bound snow blowers/broom throwers, one rail-bound spreader, and seven mountable snow plows/salt spreaders. The LIRR also has two excavators, two forklifts, 31 loaders, 42 barricades, and 29 work vehicles/trucks to assist in weather-related conditions.
Customers are advised to allow extra time to get to the station and use caution when navigating stairways and platforms and when boarding and exiting trains in case of slippery conditions. Customers can sign up for the LIRR's Customer E-Alert/Text Message service for updates about service changes related to the storm at: http://mymtaalerts.com/LoginC.aspx. Customers can also check the MTA/LIRR website for service advisories at www.mta.info/lirr.
Metro-North Railroad will deploy additional staff and specialized equipment to stay ahead of the wintery conditions. The railroad will bring in about 1,500 extra personnel to increase coverage around the system. Maintainers, track workers and power personnel will be on site to deal with such weather related issues as broken rails, catenary problems and switch failures.
To battle the elements, Metro-North has more than 900 pieces of storm-fighting equipment, including: 220 portable snow blowers, 3 rail-bound jet engine powered snow blowers/melters, 6 cold-air (rail) snow blowers/throwers, 2 rail-bound snow broom throwers, 635 track switch heaters/snow melters, 196 portable generators, 35 pickup truck plows, 70 mountable snow plows/salt spreaders and 767,000 pounds of salt.
NYC Subways and Staten Island Railway
MTA New York City Transit's Department of Subways and Staten Island Railway are operating under its Cold Weather Plan for forecasts of significant snow accumulation. Under this plan, some subway trains may be moved and stored underground in anticipation of heavy snow or ice to prevent them from being blocked in yards. On lines with express service, trains may operate local service only during this change. Station crews will be deployed to clear snow and to salt platforms, as well as station entrances, sidewalk vents, emergency exits and other Transit operational and employee facilities. Mobile wash operations for stations and refuse trains will be suspended during this time. Personnel will activate 500 track switch heaters, more than 1,600 third-rail heaters and lift-rail heaters systemwide. While the underground portions of the subway system are unaffected during snowstorms, nearly 220 miles of outdoor track throughout the boroughs are particularly vulnerable to snow and freezing precipitation, such as the Rockaway AS, Sea Beach N, Flushing 7, Brighton BQ and Dyre Av 5 lines. To combat ice buildup, non-passenger trains will continuously operate in outdoor tracks to help snow and ice accumulation. Trains also will be deployed with ice-scraping shoes, and diesel trains will be activated as de-icers. Personnel will have access to 600,000 pounds of calcium chloride and 200,000 pounds of sand to melt snow and ice.
Staten Island Railway will protect trains from the inclement weather by storing them at St. George. A de-icer train will be staffed for 24 hours, and additional staff will be activated during overnight hours to clear snow and salt platforms. Additional personnel will be deployed to inspect four critical interlockings and dispatchers will operate more than 80 switch heaters to ensure continued service on the railway, which operates on outdoor tracks for most of its route.
More information on how NYC Subways prepares for wintry weather can be found in this video on MTA's YouTube channel.
NYCT Bus and MTA Bus Company
All articulated buses will have snow chains on tires by Thursday morning, January 4. Standard buses will be equipped with all-weather tires or snow tires. Snowfighters will be deployed from Wednesday night, January 3, through Friday morning, January 5. Additional managerial staff and satellite monitoring offices will be staffed from Wednesday night through Friday morning. The Department of Buses has more than 357,000 pounds of rock salt and 100 pieces of snowfighting equipment such as tow trucks ready for deployment.
Service providers will remain in contact with the Paratransit Command Center, and snow removal equipment and salt are ready for deployment at carrier facilities. Additional call center staff and managerial staff will be on duty. More than 1200 Paratransit vehicles have been fitted with snow tires. On Thursday, January 4 and on Friday, January 5, trips reserved via e-hail, voucher and broker-providers will be limited after 9 p.m. Paratransit customers should expect additional travel and wait time during inclement weather. If snow accumulation exceeds six inches, Paratransit customers should consider rescheduling travel unless medically necessary.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
The Port Authority has the following winter weather equipment and supplies ready at its major transportation facilities:
- Hundreds of pieces of snow equipment at its airports, including melters that can liquefy up to 500 tons of snow an hour and plows that can clear snow at 40 mph
- Nearly 100 pieces of snow equipment at its bridges and tunnels, including the George Washington Bridge
- Thousands of tons of salt and sand for airport roads and parking lots, plus thousands of tons of salt for bridges and tunnels
- Hundreds of thousands of gallons of liquid anti-icing chemicals at the airports, which prevent snow and ice from bonding to runways and taxiways, plus thousands of tons of solid "de-icers," which break up snow and ice already on the ground
- Plow-equipped trains, liquid snow-melting agent trains, and a "jet engine" plow to remove snow from PATH tracks
- Snow blowers, plows and spreaders to clear station entrances and roads that serve PATH's 13 stations and various support facilities
The Port Authority advises travelers to check with their carriers to make sure their flight will be taking off before going to the airport. If warranted, the Port Authority also is prepared to accommodate ticketed passengers who may become stranded at the airports. The Port Authority also urges bus travelers to check with their carriers before going to the bus terminals, since many public and private carriers may cancel or delay service if conditions warrant. The agency also may impose speed restrictions on its crossings, or close them entirely based on weather conditions.
State Police and National Guard
The New York State Police is fully staffed for the storm, and will be closely monitoring road conditions in order to move patrols to affected areas as necessary. All 4X4 vehicles, snowmobiles, and other equipment have been tested and are ready for deployment. The New York National Guard is ready to assist communities across the state in advance of winter weather and is prepared to stand up Immediate Response Forces at Farmingdale Armed Forces Reserve Center, Camp Smith Training Site, Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach and Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y. In total, 180 personnel and 34 humvees and 6 trucks will be available for deployment downstate.
Governor Cuomo also offered the following safety tips to prepare for winter travel:
Travel with Care
Preparing your vehicle 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:
- Wipers and windshield washer fluid
- Ignition system
- Exhaust system
- Flashing hazard lights
- Oil level
- 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.
- Finally, plan long trips carefully. Listen to the local media report or call law enforcement agencies for the latest road conditions.
The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents.
- Give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination. Make sure your car is stocked with emergency items 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
As you drive:
- Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.
- Keep your vehicle clear of ice and snow - good vision is key to good driving.
- Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars.
- Remember that snowdrifts can hide smaller children.
If you lose power:
- Call your utility first to determine area repair schedules. Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate power has been restored.
- To help prevent freezing pipes, turn on faucets slightly. Running water will not freeze as quickly.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to help reduce food spoilage
- Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Do not operate generators indoors; the motor emits deadly carbon monoxide gas.
- Do not use charcoal to cook indoors. It, too, can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide gas.
- Do not use your gas oven to heat your home -- prolonged use of an open oven in a closed house can create carbon monoxide gas.
- Make sure fuel space heaters are used with proper ventilation.
- Before installing a generator, be sure to properly disconnect from your utility electrical service. If possible, have your generator installed by a qualified electrician.
- Run generators outside, downwind of structures. NEVER run a generator indoors. Deadly carbon monoxide gas from the generators exhaust can spread throughout enclosed spaces. Install a carbon monoxide detector.
- Fuel spilled on a hot generator can cause an explosion. If your generator has a detachable fuel tank remove it before refilling. If this is not possible, shut off the generator and let it cool before refilling.
- Do not exceed the rated capacity of your generator. Most of the small, home-use portable generators produce from 350 to 12,000 watts of power. Overloading your generator can damage it, the appliances connected to it, and may cause a fire. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Keep children away from generators at all times.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent, deadly killer claiming about 1,000 lives each year in the United States. Such common items as automotive exhaust, home heating systems and obstructed chimneys can produce the colorless, odorless gas. The gas can also be produced by poorly vented generators, kerosene heaters, gas grills and other items used for cooking and heating when used improperly during the winter months.
- Never run generators indoors. Open a window slightly when using a kerosene heater.
- Never use charcoal to cook indoors.
- Never use a gas oven to heat your home.
- Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sleepiness, headaches and dizziness. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, ventilate the area and get to a hospital.
- Always keep a screen around an open flame.
- Never use gasoline to start your fireplace.
- Never burn charcoal indoors.
- Do not close the damper when ashes are hot.
- When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, woodstove, etc. always make sure you have proper ventilation. Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces.
- Have your chimney checked before the season for creosote buildup -- and then clean it.
- Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors, and make sure they work
- Establish a well-planned escape route with the entire family.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Use only the correct fuel for your unit.
- Refuel outdoors only and only when the unit is cool.
- Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.
- When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.