January 24, 2019
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Urges New Yorkers to Use Caution as Upstate Forecast Calls for Heavy Lake Effect Snow

Governor Cuomo Urges New Yorkers to Use Caution as Upstate Forecast Calls for Heavy Lake Effect Snow

Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York and North County Will Be Impacted Thursday Night into Saturday Morning

Winter Storm Warnings in Effect with 6-18 Inches of Snow Possible

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to prepare for heavy lake effect snow in Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York and the North Country beginning Thursday evening and lasting into early Saturday morning. The National Weather Service has placed Winter Storm Warnings in effect for these regions during this time, with 6-18 inches of snow possible.

"New Yorkers are no strangers to winter weather but as bands of heavy lake effect snow begin to move across several regions upstate, residents should take necessary precautions to prepare for difficult weather and driving conditions," Governor Cuomo said. "We are prepared to deploy additional resources to assist local communities as needed and will continue to monitor this situation closely."

A winter storm warning is in effect from late Thursday through Saturday in Western New York where snow accumulations could reach 6-12 inches. Northern portions of the Finger Lakes and Central New York, as well as the western portion of the North Country could see 6-18 inches of snow from Friday evening into early Saturday morning.

New Yorkers should pay close attention to their local weather reports to stay updated with the latest information. Additionally, the National Weather Service has already issued flooding and winter weather watches, warnings and advisories for several different areas of the state. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website. New York stands to deploy Swift Water Rescue personnel and equipment should the state's assistance be required.

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 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, a 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 mph 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's 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.

Agency Preparations

Department of Transportation

The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 1,584 large plow trucks, which include 99 reserve trucks.

In addition, the Department has 49 tow plows, 326 large loaders, 37 snowblowers, 19 graders, 204 medium duty and pickup trucks with plows, 31 tractor trailers, and more than 373,000 tons of salt on hand. This equipment, as well as nearly 3,900 operators and supervisors, will be deployed as necessary in advance of the winter storms to help keep roads safe.

In addition, 20 large plow trucks, 40 operators and four supervisors will be deployed from their home regions to other areas as follows:

  • Central New York: The region is receiving five large plow trucks, ten operators and one supervisor from the Mid-Hudson Region.
  • Western New York: The region is receiving ten large plow trucks, 20 operators and two supervisors from the Southern Tier.
  • North Country: The region is receiving five large plow trucks, ten operators and one supervisor from the Mohawk Valley.

Motorists are reminded to check 511NY before traveling at 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.

Last week, the Governor also announced that the State Department of Transportation launched a new public education campaign to promote safe driving in winter conditions. A new website, videos and social media campaign will encourage motorists to drive safely in snow and ice conditions, and urge drivers to give snow plows enough space to operate safely.

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 664 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 242 Large Snow Plows, 124 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 by following this link: 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.

New York State Police

The New York State Police are ready to deploy additional patrols during the storm as needed to affected areas. All four-wheel drive vehicles will be deployed and all specialty vehicles, including snowmobiles and Utility Task Vehicles, are staged and ready for deployment.

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 likely to be impacted by the storm. All available assets, including snowmobiles and utility vehicles, are ready to assist with any emergency response.

Department of Public Service

The Department of Public Service is in contact with utility senior executives to ensure that the utilities are prepared for inclement weather, and it will be closely monitoring utility storm-preparation efforts to ensure that utilities stand ready to minimize outages and speed outage restorations. Electric and gas utilities, as well as telecommunication service providers, such as Verizon, are prepared to bring on additional personnel to minimize service disruptions, if they occur.

New York's utilities have an existing base of 4,300 workers available for restoration efforts, as needed. The utilities are on alert and are closely watching as the storm develops and will deploy restoration crews where needed. Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the storm event.

Utilities are prepared to respond 24 hours a day to power disruptions and are mandated to implement their emergency response plans, when needed, which includes contacting customers on life-support equipment and other critical customers.

Utilities can provide customers with storm and safety information or customers can call the Department's Call Center for information. The PSC Help Line can be reached by calling 1-800-342-3377.


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