Governor Andrew Cuomo today (Dec. 7) directed the Office of Emergency Management, State Police, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, the Department of Transportation and the Thruway Authority to enhance monitoring and prepare to deploy resources for lake effect snow that will impact parts of Western and Northern New York into Central New York and the Mohawk Valley through Saturday morning.
“With this significant snowstorm approaching, I urge New Yorkers to be prepared and stay safe,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are actively monitoring these storms and using every resource at our disposal to mitigate the effects. I strongly encourage everyone to drive responsibly and take appropriate precautions now.”
State Agency Resources
At the Governor’s direction, the New York State Emergency Operations Center will be activated Thursday and Friday, with representatives from the Office of Emergency Management, Department of Transportation, Thruway Authority, New York State Police, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control and Division of Military and Naval Affairs on site.
In addition, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has pre-deploying two high axle vehicles, two six-person tracked Utility Task Vehicle and one nine-person tracked excursion with 16 staff from the Office of Fire Prevention and Control to the regional stockpile in Monroe County to prepare for deployment if necessary.
Additional six-person tracked UTVs are on standby for movement to other portions of the state as necessary.
The Thruway Authority’s winter weather preparations include a 24-hour staff rotation for maintenance personnel, snow removal equipment ready for deployment, and ample salt and fuel supplies to keep the roadways as navigable as possible.
The Thruway Authority has more than 600 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 200 large snow plows, 137 medium snow plows and 53 loaders across the state with more than 118,500 tons of road salt on-hand.
The Authority shifts resources to affected regions as necessary and Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of winter weather conditions on the Thruway.
The New York State Thruway Authority encourages motorists to sign up for TRANSalert e-mails, which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway.
Thruway travelers can also get real-time updates by following @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting http://www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.
The New York State Department of Transportation has more than 3,700 operators and supervisors statewide and are ready to respond with 1,489 large plow/dump trucks, 204 medium plow/dump trucks, 336 loaders, 45 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, 61 tow plows, 19 graders and 15 pickup trucks with plows.
The Department of Transportation also has more than 456,000 tons of road salt on hand.
Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511 or by accessing www.511ny.org before traveling. The free service allows users to check road conditions and transit information.
Mobile users can download the updated, free 511NY mobile app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
The app now features Drive mode, which provides audible alerts along a chosen route while a user is driving, warning them about incidents and construction.
Users can set a destination prior to departing and receive information on up to three routes.
All New Yorkers can obtain emergency information through NY-ALERT, the State’s free, all-hazards, web-based alert and notification system. To subscribe, visit nyalert.gov.
If you do not own or have access to a computer, call toll-free 1-888-697-6972.
Lake Effect Snow Forecasts
In Western New York, lake effect snow will develop late tonight over Lake Erie, Northern Erie and Genesee counties. One to three inches of snow is forecast through Thursday morning and will intensify Thursday afternoon with rates of two to three inches per hour over the Chautauqua Ridge.
Lake effect snow will wind down Saturday with two to three feet of snow falling through Saturday morning, more in higher elevations.
Wind gusts of 20-30 mph and blowing and drifting snow will make driving extremely dangerous.
Off Lake Ontario, snow will develop late tonight over Jefferson County and the Watertown area. Bands will intensify tomorrow with snow falling at two to three inches per hour.
Snow will be heavy across the Tug Hill Plateau through Friday night, winding down Saturday with total accumulation of three feet with two to three feet over Oswego County.
In the Southern Tier and Central New York regions, lake effect snow will extend into the Finger Lakes towards Ithaca and Cortland and could extend to Oneonta.
Snowfall rates will be two to three inches per hour with a foot of snow falling by Thursday night. Friday will see bursts of heavy snow with rates of an inch an hour at times into Onondaga, Madison, and Northern Oneida counties through Saturday.
Total accumulations of 12 to 18 inches are predicted with blowing and drifting snow will make for poor visibility on roads.
In the Capital District Region, Lake Effect Snow will fall over the South Adirondacks and Herkimer County.
Through Friday, snow will fall at rates of two to three inches per hour in the most persistent snow bands.
Total accumulations of three to 6 inches in Southern Herkimer county with six to 12 inches predicted in northern Herkimer County.
The National Weather Service has issued Lake Effect Snow Warnings through Friday morning for Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis and Oneida Counties, and for Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Erie, Monroe, Oswego, Wayne, Wyoming counties until Saturday morning.
A Lake Effect Snow Watch is in effect for Cayuga, Madison, Oneida, and Onondaga counties until Saturday morning.
A Lake Effect Snow Advisory has been issued for Saint Lawrence County until Friday at noon.
All residents should have the following items available:
• Flashlight and extra batteries.
• Battery-powered portable radio or NOAA Weather Radio to receive emergency information. The radio will allow you to listen to weather forecasts, information, and other emergency broadcasts by local authorities.
• Seven to ten days’ supply of food. High-energy food, such as dried fruit or candy, and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration is best. Also stock an emergency supply of bottled water. The recommended amount is one gallon per person per day for 7 to 10 days.
• A one-week supply of essential medicines and baby items.
• First aid kit and supplies.
• Extra blankets and sleeping bags.
• Fire extinguisher and smoke detector – test regularly to ensure they are working properly.
Safety on the Road
Motorists are reminded 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 are urged to take extra precautions to account for the reduced speed and mobility of snowplows.
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 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:
o Battery wipers and windshield washer fluid
o Ignition system
o Exhaust system
o Flashing hazard lights
o Oil level
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.
Finally, plan long trips carefully. Listen to the local media report or call law enforcement agencies for the latest road conditions.
The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents.
• Before getting behind the wheel this winter season, every driver must keep their 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.
• Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.