February 12, 2020
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Urges New Yorkers to Prepare for Snow and Freezing Temperatures in Coming Days

TOP Governor Cuomo Urges New Yorkers to Prepare for...

Snow May Create Commuting Difficulties Thursday Morning, Freezing Temperatures Will Follow into Saturday Morning

 

State Agencies Stand Prepared to Assist Local Partners with Response Operations

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to exercise caution while traveling over the next several days as forecasts are calling for a winter weather system to deliver up to four to six inches of snow and a wintery mix to most of Upstate New York Wednesday night into Thursday. Some areas, especially those in high terrain or lake effect areas, may see higher accumulations up to eight inches. Following the system, an Arctic cold front is expected to move into the state late Thursday and plunge temperatures below zero. These conditions are expected to create difficult driving conditions, especially during the Thursday morning commute. The Governor is urging New Yorkers to be prepared for severe winter conditions and to keep a close eye on local weather forecasts for developments.

 

"While we've been spared this winter season from brutally cold temperatures, this newest storm and arctic cold front will remind us it's still winter in the Northeast," Governor Cuomo said. "Our state assets are prepared to stay ahead of this storm, and I urge all New Yorkers to slow down, move over for plows and emergency vehicles and exercise extreme caution on the highways over the next several days."

 

Currently, a low pressure system is expected to move into the state on Wednesday from the west and bring widespread precipitation to most of the state. Snow and wintery mix accumulations are forecasted to be between three to four inches in the Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York, Mohawk Valley and North Country regions. Traditional lake effect areas in the North Country and southern Western New York regions, as well as areas with higher elevations and the northern portion of the Capital Region, could potentially see up to eight inches.

 

As the precipitation begins to wind down on Thursday, an arctic cold front will move in and blanket the state with freezing temperatures. Most of Upstate should expect single-digit to negative temperatures.

 

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for several Upstate counties. New Yorkers can view the complete listing of watches, warnings, advisories, as well as access the latest forecasts, by visiting 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.  Statewide assets are as follows:

  • 1,608 large snow plows
  • 329 large loaders
  • 181 medium duty plows
  • 52 tow plows
  • 40 snowblowers
  • 19 graders

 

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 700 operators and supervisors ready to deploy 248 Large Snow Plows, 106 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 62 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 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 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, and will be prepared to deploy additional patrols in 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. 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.

 

Cold Weather

Wind Chill Warnings are in effect for all regions in New York State, north of Rockland and Westchester Counties. They are expected to range from 10 below zero to 30 below zero. Wind Chill Advisories are in effect for the Rockland County, Westchester County, New York City, and Long Island where wind chills are expected to range from 15 to 20 below zero at times.

 

Temperatures as low as those forecast this weekend can cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes to exposed skin. Be prepared by keeping ample emergency supplies in your home and vehicles. If you are heading outdoors, dress in layers and keep your hands and head covered to protect against frostbite. Other safety tips include:

 

Staying Warm Indoors

If your heat goes out during the cold weather, you can keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need. Dress in layers of lightweight clothing and wear a cap.

 

Protecting Water Pipes

To prevent the mess and aggravation of frozen water pipes, protect your home, apartment or business by following the simple steps below.

 

Before Cold Weather

  • Locate and insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing, typically those near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in the attic.
  • Wrap pipes with heat tape (UL approved).
  • Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
  • Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.

 

When It's Cold

  • Let hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to un-insulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall.
  • Make sure heat is left on and set no lower than 55 degrees.
  • If you plan to be away: (1) Have someone check your house daily to make sure the heat is still on to prevent freezing, or (2) drain and shut off the water system (except indoor sprinkler systems).

 

If Pipes Freeze

  • Make sure you and your family knows how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst. Stopping the water flow minimize the damage to your home. Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent.
  • Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.
  • Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water. 

 

Outdoor Safety

To avoid frostbite, stay inside during severe cold. If you must go out, try to cover every part of your body: ears, nose, toes and fingers, etc. Mittens are better than gloves. Keep your skin dry. Stay out of the wind when possible. Drink plenty of fluids since hydration increases the blood's volume, which helps prevent frostbite. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes. Caffeine constricts blood vessels, preventing warming of your extremities. Alcohol reduces shivering, which helps keep you warm. Cigarette use shuts off the blood flow to your hands.

 

Frostbite First Aid

Until you can get indoors:

  • Don't rub or massage cold body parts.
  • Drink warm liquids.
  • Put on extra layers of clothes, blankets, etc.
  • Remove rings, watches, and anything tight.

 

Once Indoors

  • Don't walk on a frostbitten foot. You could cause more damage.
  • Get in a warm, NOT hot, bath and wrap your face and ears in a moist, warm, NOT hot, towel.
  • Don't get near a hot stove or heater or use a heating pad, hot water bottle, or a hair dryer. You may burn yourself before feeling returns.
  • Frostbitten skin will become red and swollen and feel like it's on fire. You may develop blisters. Don't break the blisters. It could cause scarring.
  • If your skin turns blue or gray, is very swollen, blistered or feels hard and numb even under the surface, go to a hospital immediately.

 

Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, especially in children and the elderly. Watch for the following symptoms: inability to concentrate, poor coordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, exhaustion, and/or uncontrollable shivering, followed by a sudden lack of shivering. If a person's body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, get emergency medical assistance immediately. Remove wet clothing, wrap the victim in warm blankets, and give warm, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids until help arrives.

 

Be "Fire Safe"

Heating equipment is among the leading causes of home fires nationally and in New York State. Very often, heating related fires are the result of a lack of maintenance or simple acts of carelessness. Nationally, an average of 45,900 home heating fires occurred each year from 2013-2015. These fires caused an annual average of approximately 205 deaths, 725 injuries and $506 million in property loss.

 

Taking a few simple steps can significantly reduce the possibility of experiencing a heating related fire. No matter how careful you are with home heating, you and your family should be prepared in case fire strikes.

  • Buy and carefully maintain a quality smoke and carbon monoxide detector.
  • Inspect your home to eliminate or control fire hazards.
  • Install at least 5-pound A-B-C type fire extinguishers in the home and teach family members how to use them.
  • Establish a well-planned escape route with the entire family.
  • Hold practice fire drills until all family members are thoroughly familiar with plan.
  • If you have an older home, have the wiring checked by a qualified electrician to make sure it meets current building codes.
  • Have your chimney and fireplace cleaned and inspected yearly for creosote build-up, cracks, crumbling bricks or mortar and any obstructions.
  • Keep storage areas clean and tidy.
  • Keep curtains, towels and pot holders away from hot surfaces.
  • Store solvents and flammable cleaners away from heat sources. NEVER keep gasoline in the house.
  • Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed wires or loose plugs.

 

Follow Proper Maintenance

Proper maintenance and an annual inspection of heat pumps, furnaces, space heaters, wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and chimney connections by qualified specialists can prevent fires and save lives. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation, venting, fueling, maintenance and repair.  Review the owner's manual to make sure you remember the operating and safety features.

  • Space Heaters - Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from furniture, window treatments, bedding, clothing, rugs, and other combustibles. Avoid the use of extension cords with electric heaters. Always turn off space heaters before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Fuel Burning Appliances -Inspect the shut off mechanism and wick for proper operation. Fill the tank with fresh fuel. Let the heater cool down before refueling. Adding fuel to a hot heater can start a dangerous fire.
  • Wood Burning Appliances and Fireplaces - Do not burn trash in the wood stove or fireplace. Burn only well-seasoned hardwoods. Be sure the fire you build fits your fireplace or stove, don't overload it. Be sure wood stoves are installed at least 36 inches away from the wall. Keep combustible materials well away from the fireplace, stove and chimney. Keep the area around them clean. Always use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from leaving the fireplace and starting a fire. Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Chimneys - Creosote accumulation is the leading cause of chimney fires. A chimney that is dirty, blocked or is in disrepair can inhibit proper venting of smoke up the flue and can also cause a chimney fire. Nearly all residential fires originating in the chimney are preventable. An annual chimney inspection by a qualified chimney sweep can prevent fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Ashes - Keep wood stoves and fireplaces free of excess ash buildup. Excessive ash buildup prevents good circulation of air needed for combustion. When removing ashes, use a metal container with a tight-fitting cover. Always place ashes in an outside location away from structures. Ashes that seem cool may contain a smoldering charcoal that can start a fire.

 

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is produced anywhere that fuel is burned and is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. It is an odorless, tasteless and invisible killer, and the ONLY safe way to detect it is with a carbon monoxide alarm. Carbon monoxide alarms range in price from $20 to $50 depending on additional features.

 

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sleepiness, headaches and dizziness. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, ventilate the area and get to a hospital.

 

Other safety tips include:

  • Make sure chimneys and vents are checked for blockages, corrosion, and loose connections.
  • Open flues completely when fireplaces are in use.
  • Use proper fuel in space heaters.
  • Never burn charcoal or a barbecue grill inside a home or enclosed space.
  • Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, or vehicle
  • Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
  • Never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room where people are sleeping.
  • Never use the kitchen stove for heating a house.
  • Never run a gas powered generator in a garage, basement, or near any overhang on the home. Keep it at a distance

 

For more winter weather safety information, please visit the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info.

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