Thruway Authority bans long tandem trailers from exit 25A (I-88) to the Pennsylvania state line; New Yorkers urged to exercise caution as storm moves across the state
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency Wednesday for the following counties as the latest winter storm crosses the state: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Wayne and Wyoming. The National Weather Service declared a blizzard warning for these counties.
The storm is expected to bring significant snowfall from Wednesday into Thursday in the western, central, capital and north country regions of the state. As part of the state of emergency, the governor ordered the activation of the state's emergency operations center at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. Staffing at the EOC include personnel from state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, New York State Police, Thruway Authority, Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Conservation and the Public Service Commission.
"With arrival of this latest winter storm, I am declaring a state of emergency in the regions where a blizzard warning has been issued, so that we can effectively respond to the storm and aid communities that may experience difficulty as a result of high snowfall," Cuomo said. "These areas are expected to continue to receive heavy snow that may accumulate at rates of around one to two inches per hour, which will make it difficult for plows to keep some roads clear. New Yorkers in these areas should exercise caution until the worst of the storm has passed."
Under a state of emergency, critical resources that are normally restricted to state use are mobilized to assist local governments, while laws and regulations that would otherwise impede their rapid response are suspended.
Steps taken to ensure readiness include:
Roads and Bridges
The state has activated 1,794 plows, 306 front loaders and 4,185 operators in affected regions.
Also, the state has 406,500 tons of road salt on-hand for the areas in the path of the storm.
The Thruway Authority has banned long tandem trailers from exit 25A (I-88) to the Pennsylvania state line.
All Thruway and State Department of Transportation maintenance headquarters will be fully staffed around the clock for the duration of the storm.
The New York State Public Service Commission activated its call center helpline hours Wednesday, from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and will continue through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., if needed, to assist consumers in storm preparation and response efforts. The helpline number is 1-800-342-3377.
PSC staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts throughout the storm and during the restoration period. The electric utilities are prepared to respond to power disruptions throughout the event. In total, approximately 3,800 field workers are available to respond statewide. Additional crews are also available through mutual assistance, if needed.
The Division of State Police has had contact with all regional troop commanders to ensure resources and staffing patterns have been identified for the storm. Troop emergency management personnel have been pre-designated to staff open county emergency operation centers. Weather-related incident reporting procedures are in place for the duration of the storm. State Police continue to closely monitor road closures and restrictions with the Department of Transportation and state Thruway Authority.
The Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services and State Police will provide staff to any county emergency operations centers that may be activated to help coordinate responses with local agencies.
Cuomo recommends the following tips to citizens who reside in the storm-affected regions:
Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:
•Never follow a snowplow too closely or attempt to pass one. Remember that the highway ahead of the plow is usually snow-covered.
•Adjust speed for road conditions and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
•Schedule extra time for winter travel and be patient during ice and snow removal operations.
•Assume bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces.
•Be wary of black ice, which can be difficult to see, but makes conditions slippery when pavement temperatures are below freezing.
•Have a cell phone handy, if possible, but do not text while driving; distracted driving is illegal and becomes even more dangerous during storm events.
•Never venture from your vehicle if snowbound.
•Equip your car with emergency supplies including sand, shovel, flares, booster cables, rope, ice scraper, portable radio, flashlight, blankets and extra warm clothes.
•Inform a responsible person of your destination, intended route, and estimated time of arrival.
•Keep calm and do not panic in case of a vehicle breakdown, accident, or if you become snowbound.
NYSDOT provides a travel advisory system that features real-time travel reports and can be accessed by phone at 511 or online at www.511ny.org. The website features a color-coded map indicating which state roads are snow covered, ice covered, wet, dry, or closed to help travelers determine if travel is advisable. The system provides real-time snow and ice conditions for interstates and other heavily traveled roads, as reported by snowplow operators.
Thruway travelers can find real-time traffic and road condition updates at www.Thruway.ny.gov, can sign up for TRANSAlert emails at http://www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml, or follow @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter. Also for more information and to sign up for free alerts about hazardous travel conditions in your area, go to www.nyalert.gov.
Thruway travelers can also find useful information on the highway advisory radio stations, which broadcast traffic advisories, road conditions, and safety tips 24-hours-a-day. HAR frequencies can be found at http://www.thruway.ny.gov/travelers/har/index.html.
If You Lose Power
If you lose electrical service during the winter, follow these tips:
•First, call your utility to determine area repair schedules.
•Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate when power has been restored.
•If heat goes out during a winter storm, keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need.
Alternative Heating Safety Tips
Use only safe sources of alternative heat, such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters. Always follow manufacturer's instructions.
When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, woodstove, etc., always make sure you have proper ventilation. Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces.
Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors - and make sure they work.
If you use kerosene heaters to supplement your regular heating fuel, or as an emergency source of heat, follow these safety tips:
•Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
•Use only the correct fuel for your unit.
•Refuel outdoors only, and only when the unit is cool.
•Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.
•When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.
For more information, and a list of essential emergency safety items to keep in your home, visit the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services winter safety page at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/publicsafety/winter.cfm.