December 16, 2020
Albany, NY

Governor Updates New Yorkers On Preparations Ahead of Winter Storm Poised to Bring Heavy Snow, Wind and Hazardous Travel Conditions Across Much of the State

TOP Governor Updates New Yorkers On Preparations...

State Disaster Emergency May Be Declared Throughout Hudson Valley by 6 p.m. if Necessary

Half the State Could See Snow Accumulations from 12 to 18 Inches, Coastal Flooding and Power Outages Possible in New York City and Long Island 

Empty and Tandem Tractor Trailers Banned on all MTA Bridges and Tunnels Beginning at 4 p.m.

Empty and Tandem Tractor Trailers also Banned on New York State Thruway South of Exit 24, on I-84 from the Connecticut State Line to the Pennsylvania State Line, on I-684 Between I-84 to I-287, and on Route 17 Between I-84 and I-81 Beginning at 5 p.m.

WYSIWYG

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on state preparations as an impending winter storm is poised to hit the state Wednesday evening. The Governor urged citizens to prepare for snow, high winds and hazardous travel conditions as the quick moving coastal storm is expected to intensify into a high-impact Nor'easter and drop 12 to 18 inches of snow across the Southern Tier, Capital Region, Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island. The storm could also cause coastal flooding and power outages, with winds gusts up to 40 mph expected in New York City and on Long Island. 

The Governor also announced that a State Disaster Emergency may be declared by 6 p.m. across several Hudson Valley counties, as this area is expected to be the hardest hit with localized snowfall totals expected to reach 24 inches in some areas. Additionally, all empty and tandem tractor trailers will be banned from MTA Bridges and Tunnels beginning at 4 p.m. Similar bans will be in place on the New York State Thruway south of Exit 24, Interstate 84 from the Connecticut State Line to the Pennsylvania State Line, Interstate 684 from Interstate 84 to Interstate 287 and on Route 17 from Interstate 84 to Interstate 81 beginning at 5 p.m. 

"State and local emergency response assets and personnel have been staged throughout the state and are ready to help keep all New Yorkers safe as this powerful system moves through the Northeast," Governor Cuomo said. "This is our first major storm of the season and I'm urging the public to stay home this evening and throughout the overnight hours to let our crews do their jobs and clear the roads. Just remember - if you're stuck in traffic, our plows are too."    

The storm is expected to move into the region between 3 and 5 p.m. and intensify by 7 p.m., with snowfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour possible overnight. Much of the state will see temperatures ranging from high 20s to low 30s. Wind chill values as low as -2 are possible in the North Country and Capital Region.

Forecasters are calling for 12 to18 inches from Binghamton to Albany and points south, with the Downstate region expected to see the heaviest snowfall. Western New York is expected to see 3 to 4 inches, Central New York and the North Country 4 to 6, and the Mohawk Valley 6 to 8.

The National Weather Service has already issued several advisories and watches ahead of this storm. New Yorkers are urged to stay alert and monitor local weather forecasts for changing conditions and ensure their safety by preparing their family and household for inclement weather now. For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website

Agency Preparations

Department of Transportation

Beginning at 5 p.m., all empty tractor trailers and tandem vehicles will be banned on Interstate 84 from the Connecticut State Line to the Pennsylvania State Line, on Interstate 684 from Interstate 84 to Interstate 287 and on Route 17 from Interstate 84 to Interstate 81. 

The Department of Transportation is prepared to respond with 3,587 supervisors and operators. All residency locations will remain staffed for 24/7 operation throughout the duration of the event and priority cleanup operations. All available S&I equipment is ready to deploy.  Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 1,613 large plow trucks
  • 179 medium duty plows
  • 52 tow plows
  • 311 large loaders
  • 38 snow blowers 

To support snow and ice activities in critical areas, a total of 180 additional upstate staff, including: 164 plow truck operators, 8 equipment operator instructors, and 8 mechanics; and 4 mechanic service trucks are being deployed. They are distributed as follows:

  • The Capital Region will be receiving 2 mechanics and 1 mechanic service truck
  • The Mid-Hudson Region will be receiving 67 plow operators, 4 equipment operator instructors, 2 mechanics and 1 mechanic service truck
  • The Southern Tier will be receiving 12 plow operators, 2 equipment operator instructors
  • Long Island will be receiving 85 plow operators, 2 equipment operator instructors, 4 mechanics, 2 mechanic service trucks 

Thruway Authority

Beginning at 5 p.m., all empty tractor trailers and tandem vehicles will be banned from the Thruway (I-87) south of exit 24 (Albany) to New York City (including the Berkshire Spur, Garden State Parkway extension, New England Thruway and the Cross Westchester Expressway).

The Thruway Authority has 682 operators and supervisors ready to respond with 252 large snow plows, 103 medium snow plows, 11 tow plows and 62 loaders across the state with more than 125,000 tons of road salt on hand.

In addition, eight large snow plows, one tow plow, one large blower, as well as 16 operators and 2 supervisors have been deployed from the Thruway's Buffalo Division to the lower Hudson Valley region to support in snow and ice operations in areas with the highest forecasted snow totals. 

Beginning at 5 p.m., all empty tractor trailers and tandem vehicles will be banned from the Thruway (I-87) south of exit 24 (Albany) to New York City (including the Berkshire Spur, Garden State Parkway extension, New England Thruway and the Cross Westchester Expressway).

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 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.  

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. Response equipment is being fueled, tested and prepared for storm response use. The agency has six sawyer crews available for deployment. Park Police have 21 snowmobiles and four enclosed cab tracked UTVs available for deployment. Park visitors should check parks.ny.gov or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.

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, including snowmobiles, are positioned to assist with any emergency response.

Department of Public Service

New York's utilities have approximately 5,500 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response and restoration efforts across New York State. Department of Public Service staff will track the utilities' work throughout the storm event and will ensure the utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to experience the greatest impact.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Emergency Operations Center remains activated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will monitor weather conditions, coordinate state response operations and stay in contact with localities throughout the duration of the event. State Stockpiles are also prepared to deploy assets to localities to support any storm-related needs. This includes pumps, chainsaws, sandbags and bottled water. At Governor Cuomo's direction, the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control is prepositioning three tracked vehicles today in the Mid-Hudson Region to assist local partners with any necessary rescue efforts. 

State Police

State Police will be increasing staffing in the affected areas by 20 percent and are prepared to deploy additional Troopers as needed to affected areas.  All State Police specialized vehicles, including four-wheel drive vehicles, snowmobiles, and Utility Task Vehicles are staged and ready for immediate response.  All Troop emergency power and communications equipment has been tested. 

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

With a winter storm approaching, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) personnel are hard at work to ensure safe, reliable service continues throughout the storm and aftermath. The MTA has activated its 24/7 Command Center to monitor conditions. MTA employees are poised to spread salt and clear platforms and stairs of snow and ice, keep signals, switches, third rail operating, remove any downed trees that may fall across tracks, and attend to any weather-related challenges during the storm. 

MTA Bridges and Tunnels is proactively implementing an empty and tandem tractor trailer ban at 4 p.m. today. The Long Island Rail Road will operate on an enhanced weekend schedule for Thursday, Dec. 17.

Customers are encouraged avoid unnecessary travel, check mta.info for the latest service updates, and to use extreme caution while navigating the system, especially on outdoor platforms and stairs. Customers should also sign up for real-time service alerts via text or email. These alerts are also available via the MTA's apps: MYmta, Metro-North Train Time and Long Island Rail Road Train Time. 

Port Authority

The Port Authority urges motorists to use caution during this week's winter storm; speed restrictions may be in effect at the bridges as well as along roadways to and from the crossings.  

Travelers through the Port Authority's airports, bus terminal and bus station are encouraged to reach out to carriers and airlines directly for the latest information on delays, cancelations or rebookings. For the latest information about Port Authority facilities, please check social media, sign up for PA alerts or download one of the PA mobile apps.  

New York Power Authority / Canal Corporation

The New York Power Authority and the Canal Corporation staff have performed regular preparations for winter weather in advance of the impending storm to ensure all facilities, assets and equipment are storm ready. The Power Authority also is prepared to support power restoration activities if needed. 

Safety Tips 

Safe Travel

It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, 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 snowplows travel slower than highway speeds and motorists should use caution when traveling near them. 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 winter driving include:

  • When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Winterize Your Vehicle

Preparing your vehicle for the winter season 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:

  • Battery 
  • Wipers and windshield washer fluid
  • Antifreeze 
  • Ignition system 
  • Thermostat 
  • Lights 
  • Exhaust system 
  • Flashing hazard lights 
  • Heater 
  • Brakes
  • Defroster
  • Oil level

Also be sure to:

  • 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.
  • Plan long trips carefully. Listen to the local media report or call law enforcement agencies for the latest road conditions.

Drive Safely 

The leading cause of injuries and death during winter storms is transportation accidents.

  • Before getting behind the wheel this winter season, every driver could learn a lesson from our school bus drivers. It is elementary, but we have to keep our vehicles clear of ice and snow. Good vision is a key to good driving.
  • Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars. Be extra alert. Remember, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Moreover, always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

If caught in the storm and are unable to continue traveling:

  • Stay in your car and wait for help to find you.
  • Run your engine for short periods of time to stay warm. Keep your down-wind window open and make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow.
  • Turn on the dome light at night when you are running the engine to signal rescuers.
  • Hang a brightly colored piece of cloth or piece of clothing from your car.
  • Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm. 

For more winter safety tips, please visit the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website.

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