GOVERNOR CUOMO URGES CAUTION AS REMNANTS OF HURRICANE ZETA WILL COMBINE WITH COLD FRONT TO CREATE HAZARDOUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS BEGINNING THURSDAY MORNING

Several Inches of Snow Possible in Northern NYS and Higher Elevations; Mixed Precipitation and High Winds in Lower Elevations and Southern Parts of NYS

New Yorkers Urged to Practice Extra Caution When Traveling as Snow and Mixed Precipitation May Cause Slippery Surfaces

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to use caution as Hurricane Zeta threatens to combine with cold Canadian air to produce snow showers and mixed precipitation across the state starting Thursday morning and lasting through Friday. Northern parts of the state and higher elevations may see several inches of accumulating snow in local areas depending on the track of the storm. Southern areas of the state and lower elevations will likely experience an inch or more of rain and mixed precipitation, while New York City and Long Island could see up to two inches of rain and wind gusts of 40 mph. New Yorkers are urged to exercise caution as precipitation combined with cold temperatures may cause hazardous travel including slippery surfaces.

“New Yorkers are well accustomed to intense October storms and this one has the potential to deliver a mixed medley of cold rain, wind and snow across much of the state,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our state emergency response assets are prepared to assist our local partners if needed. I am asking all travelers to review seasonal safety tips and slow down on our roadways during this storm.”

On Thursday night, there is a chance of rain showers across much of the state while snow showers could pop up in the Capital, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, North Country, and Western New York regions. Temperatures will range from the low-20s to the low-40s with winds out of the north at 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph in the Capital and Mid-Hudson regions and 30 mph in New York City and Long Island regions.  New rainfall amounts of a half to three quarters of an inch are possible throughout the state, with snow accumulations of less than a half-inch expected in the Capital, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier and Western New York regions.

On Friday, there is a chance of snow showers in the Capital, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western New York regions, with amounts of up to a half-inch possible.  Temperatures will range in the mid-30s to the low-50s, and winds will generally be out of the north at 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph in the Capital Region and 40 mph in the NYC and Long Island Regions.

There are no current watches or warnings issued for this weather event, but this could change as the system moves closer overnight.  New Yorkers are urged to stay alert and monitor local weather forecasts for changing conditions.  To view the complete listing of weather alerts issued by the National Weather Services in New York State, visit their website here.

Agency Preparations

Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation is prepared to respond with the following assets:

  • 1,529 large dump trucks
  • 182 medium duty trucks with plow
  • 49 loaders with grapple
  • 17 vac trucks with sewer jet
  • 31 tracked excavators
  • 46 wheeled excavators
  • 58 tractor trailers with lowboy trailer
  • 15 tree crew bucket trucks
  • 34 traffic signal trucks
  • 6 water pumps (4-6 inch)
  • 77 chippers, 10″ (min) capacity

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 644 operators and supervisors ready to deploy 239 large plow trucks, 11 tow plows, and 60 loaders across the state with more than 90 percent salt capacity on hand at 42 salt sheds on the Thruway system. In addition, Thruway crews are ready to respond to any flood related issues with small to medium sized excavators, plow/dump trucks, large loaders, portable VMS boards, portable light towers, vac trucks and smaller pumps, as well as signage and other traffic control devices available for any detours or closures.

Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of 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

New York State Police

State Police 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.

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 to assist with any emergency response.

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 Bethpage State Park picnic area is being used as a mobilization area for PSEG Long Island to respond to the storm.  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 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.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The MTA is taking all necessary precautions to ensure that its services run safely and reliably during and after the storm.  MTA agencies – NYC Transit, Metro-North Railroad, Long Island Rail Road, Bridges & Tunnels and Construction & Development – are closely monitoring weather conditions and making the following preparations:

  • Staffing incident command centers to coordinate monitoring and response activity
  • Staging personnel at key locations throughout the service region for faster response
  • Focusing monitoring and resources on flood-prone locations
  • Reviewing all construction plans and making any adjustments needed, such as suspending crane operations
  • Inspecting track pumps, track and station drains and sewer connections
  • Staging debris removal trains and preparing emergency response equipment and materials such as dump trucks, generators, and fuel

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.