February 20, 2019
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Urges Drivers to Use Caution as Winter Weather Set to Impact Wednesday Evening Commute

Governor Cuomo Urges Drivers to Use Caution as Winter Weather Set to Impact Wednesday Evening Commute

Snow, Ice and Freezing Rain Expected Throughout Much of the State Today Through Early Thursday Morning

Winter Weather Advisories in Effect for All of New York With the Exception of Northern Parts of the North Country Through Early Thursday Morning

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged drivers throughout New York to use caution during the Wednesday evening commute as a system of snow, ice and freezing rain is set to create difficult driving conditions in several regions of the state. Beginning Wednesday afternoon, the system will move into the state and bring one to four inches of snow to most of the state before transitioning to sleet and freezing rain as the day progresses. Highway crews have already begun pre-treating roadways and fully prepared to respond throughout the event to ensure roadways are as clear as possible.

"With a wintery mix expected through much of the state during this evening's commute, I encourage all drivers to take it slow and avoid the roads if possible during this winter weather event," Governor Cuomo said. "Preparations to pre-treat roadways across the state are already underway and the State stands ready to deploy assets as necessary."

Winter Weather Advisories are in effect for all of New York with the exception of northern parts of the North Country through early Thursday morning. Snow is expected to begin before noon today and continue in most areas until the early morning hours tomorrow, at which point transitions to a wintry mix are expected. Overnight, temperatures around the state will begin to slowly rise, turning most precipitation to rain before eventually tapering off before mid-morning Thursday. New York City and Long Island may see snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches, while snow accumulation should remain under 2 inches upstate. Thursday, rain is forecast throughout most of the state during the morning, with a slight chance for snow in the North Country, with precipitation throughout the state should tapering off by mid-day.

Agency Preparations

The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 1,587 large plow trucks, 20 graders, 328 large loaders, 183 medium duty plows, 19 pickup trucks with plows, 39 snowblowers, and 32 tractor trailers. The Department also has nearly 374,000 tons of salt on hand. This equipment, as well as more than 3,900 operators and supervisors, are deployed across the state as necessary in advance of winter storms to help keep roads safe.

Motorists are reminded to check 511NY before traveling at www.511NY.org 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.

Additionally, the Thruway Authority has 667 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 247 Large Snow Plows, 123 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 56 Loaders across the state with more than 108,000 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.

Safe Travel

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.
  • Do not attempt to drive over flooded roads, turn around and go another way. Water moving at two m.p.h. can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
  • Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges, and low areas.
  • If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.

Additionally, the leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, ensure 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, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Moreover, 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.


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