(WETM – TV) – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo placed National Guard personnel on standby Saturday, and activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center to enhanced monitoring mode as a severe winter storm passes through many parts of the state. The Governor deployed state agency commissioners from DHSES, DOT, Thruway Authority and State Police to regions expected to be hardest hit by the storm, and announced the state emergency response bunker will be open until the end of the storm. The Governor also announced 524,000 tons of salt is available to help combat black ice and snowy roads.
“This storm has the potential to cause significant problems as many New Yorkers return from the Thanksgiving holiday today and commute to work tomorrow,” said Governor Cuomo. “Snow, black ice, rain and wind are a bad combination — but this isn’t our first rodeo and we pre-deployed significant state assets and personnel to prepare for the storm and maintain the roads. I am now placing National Guard personnel on standby and activating our emergency command center to ensure we are able to respond quickly and effectively to this storm and help keep our people safe.”
Roads have already begun to ice on I-88, I-99 and 1-84 in Broome County, Southern Tier Region. Additional Department of Transportation and State Police assets have been moved to I-84 to assist as black ice travels up the highway from Northeastern Pennsylvania. Bus service has been canceled out of Port Authority in New York City to Binghamton, Rochester, Buffalo, Ithaca and Syracuse until further notice.
Precipitation will begin as snow for most of the state during the day on Sunday as the nor’easter will move from the Southern Tier toward the Catskills, Mohawk Valley and the Capital Region. The heaviest widespread precipitation will be Sunday afternoon into Sunday night and then a prolonged period of varying intensity precipitation Monday into Monday night. Interior areas to the northwest of New York City have the potential to see a period of freezing rain and sleet Sunday night.
The forecast calls for the heaviest snow accumulations in the western Catskills, with totals expected to hit two feet. The Southern Tier and Capital District regions could see 12 to 18 inches, while Central New York and the Mohawk Valley are expected to receive up to 15 inches of snow. New York City and Long Island getting approximately 1 to 4 inches.
Temperatures will range from the high 20s to low 40s. Winds will be southeast from 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph in the Long Island, Mid-Hudson, and New York City Regions.
Various watches and advisories have been issued by the NWS for Areas in Western NY, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central NY, Mohawk Valley, North County, Mid-Hudson and Capital Regions.
For a complete listing of advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.
Department of Transportation
The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 3,517 supervisors and operators available. Regional crews are currently engaged in snow and ice preparations and rain event monitoring. All Residency locations will be staffed for 24/7operation throughout the duration of the event.
All available snow and ice equipment is ready to deploy. Fleet mechanics in affected areas will be staffing all maintenance locations 24/7 to perform repairs and keep trucks on the road. Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:
- 1592 large plow trucks
- 183 medium duty plows
- 52 tow plows
- 327 large loaders
- 39 snow blowers
The Thruway Authority has 684 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 218 Large Snow Plows, 109 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 63 Loaders across the state with more than 123,000 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, including high winds. All available assets, including swift water rescue and saw crew teams are strategically located to assist with tree clearing and response needs. In addition, all available assets, including utility vehicles, are positioned to assist with any emergency response.
Department of Public Service
New York’s utilities have approximately 4,500 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response and restoration across New York State. Department of Public Service staff will track the utilities’ work throughout the storm event.
New York State Police
The New York State Police have readied assets including all 4x4s, high-axle vehicles and boats for deployment as needed. Troopers have been instructed to remain on high alert and to closely monitor flood prone areas for rising waters while on patrol.
Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation regional crews are monitoring the storm and ready to assist as needed. Emergency response equipment will be fueled and prepared for operation and staff will monitor conditions throughout the day.
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, set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick-energy foods and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
- If you have a cellphone or other communications device, such as a two-way radio available for your use, keep the battery charged and with you whenever traveling. If you should become stranded, you will be able to call for help, advising rescuers of your location.
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.
For a complete list of weather terms and preparation ideas before during and after a power outage, visit the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/outage/.