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Cuomo urges caution as snow and frigid temperatures approach New York

Press Release

Tue, Jan 29th 2019 12:45 pm
File photo
File photo

Majority of upstate New York can expect 6 to 12 inches of snow by Wednesday;

Arctic air moving into state Wednesday combined with wind gusts will produce potentially life-threatening wind chill levels

Snow, wind and frigid temperatures will cause hazardous travel conditions across state; emergency operations center activated to prepare for & assist with emergency response

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday urged New Yorkers to prepare for snow and cold temperatures that are headed toward the state. Several weather systems are forecast to move through New York through Wednesday, producing up to a foot of snow in many parts of upstate. In addition, an Arctic blast of cold air will move into the state on Wednesday, bringing frigid temperatures and life-threatening wind chills.

Due to the forecast, Cuomo has directed a level three activation of the state emergency operations center in order to prepare for and assist with any potential emergency response activities.

Additionally, the snow, wind and cold temperatures will result in hazardous travel conditions in many parts of the state. High wind gusts in some areas will produce near-blizzard conditions with severe blowing and drifting snow, and there is the threat of black ice forming on roadways as temperatures turn colder. New Yorkers should exercise caution and travel only if necessary.

"Safety is our No. 1 priority, and we are once again urging New Yorkers to prepare for the upcoming winter weather and to travel with caution in these potentially dangerous conditions," Cuomo said. "State agencies are out in full force conducting preparatory operations and will remain engaged throughout the week to assist localities with whatever they need."

Following the initial weather systems, a blast of Arctic air is expected to deliver freezing cold temperatures to the state starting Wednesday and lasting through Friday. Daytime temperatures are forecasted to dip into the single digits or teens, with overnight lows below zero in many areas. Frigid temperatures combined with wind are expected to produce life-threatening wind chills in some places.

New Yorkers should pay close attention to their local weather reports to stay updated with the latest information. Additionally, the National Weather Service has already issued flooding and winter weather watches, warnings and advisories for several different areas of the state.

For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.

Agency Preparations

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services: The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will coordinate with state agencies and local governments to ensure resources from the state's 10 regional stockpiles are available for deployment throughout the weather event. Staff at the state EOC and regional personnel are prepared to respond to any issues as necessary.

Department of Transportation: The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 1,598 large plow trucks, which include 98 reserve trucks.

In addition, the department has 51 tow plows, 326 large loaders, 39 snowblowers, 19 graders, 203 medium-duty and pickup trucks with plows, 34 tractor trailers, and more than 369,424 tons of salt on hand. This equipment, as well as nearly 3,900 operators and supervisors, will be deployed as necessary in advance of the winter storms to help keep roads safe.

In addition, 35 large plow trucks, two snowblowers, 70 operators, six equipment operator instructors, 10 supervisors, eight mechanics, two mechanic supervisors and two Incident command system support staff have been deployed from their home regions to other areas, including Western New York. This region is receiving 11 large plow trucks, 22 operators and one supervisor from the Finger Lakes; four large plow trucks, eight operators and one supervisor from the Southern Tier; one snowblower from the Mid-Hudson Region; one equipment operator instructor from the Finger Lakes; one equipment operator instructor from the Southern Tier; and one ICS support staff member from the Capital Region.

Motorists are reminded to check 511NY or download the mobile app before traveling. The free service allows users to check road conditions, and features a winter travel advisory system with real-time travel reports and a color-coded map indicating which state roads are clear, wet or snow covered. The system provides motorists with a helpful resource to determine if travel is advisable.

The governor also recently announced the New York State Department of Transportation launched a new public education campaign to promote safe driving in winter conditions. A new website, videos and social media campaign will encourage motorists to drive safely in snow and ice conditions, and urge drivers to give snow plows enough space to operate safely.

Thruway Authority: The Thruway Authority has 664 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 244 large snow plows, 127 medium snow plows, 11 tow plows and 55 Loaders across the state with more than 108,000 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 encourages motorists to download its mobile app, which is available to download 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, For real-time updates, motorists can follow @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or visit www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York state roadways.

Department of Public Service: The Department of Public Service is in contact with utility senior executives to ensure the utilities are prepared for inclement weather, and it will be closely monitoring utility storm-preparation efforts to ensure utilities stand ready to minimize outages and speed outage restorations. Electric and gas utilities, as well as telecommunication service providers, such as Verizon, are closely watching as the storm develops and prepared to bring on additional personnel to minimize service disruptions, if they occur.

Utilities are prepared to respond 24 hours a day to utility service disruptions and are mandated to implement their emergency response plans, when needed, which include performing proper messaging to alert customers to the expected frigid temperatures as well contacting customers on life-support equipment and other critical customers. Department staff will continue to monitor the utilities' efforts during the storm event.

Utilities can provide customers with storm and safety information or customers can call the department's call center for information. The PSC helpline can be reached by calling 1-800-342-3377.

New York State Police: The New York State Police are ready to deploy additional patrols during the storm as needed to affected areas. All four-wheel drive vehicles will be deployed and all specialty vehicles, including snowmobiles and utility task vehicles, are staged and ready for deployment.

Department of Environmental Conservation: Department of Environmental Conservation police officers, forest rangers, emergency management staff, and regional staff are on alert, monitoring the developing situation, and actively patrolling areas likely to be impacted by the storm. All available assets, including snowmobiles and utility vehicles, are ready to assist with any emergency response.

New York Power Authority | Canal Corp.: The New York Power Authority continues to monitor conditions and remains in constant contact with emergency management officials.

The New York State Canal Corp., a subsidiary of NYPA, continues to communicate with hydropower entities along the state Canal System regarding changes in releases and conditions, as well as developing hazards. The Canal Corp. has taken pre-emptive actions statewide to mitigate potential flood impacts throughout the system, and staff is closely monitoring known ice jam locations including known locations along the Mohawk River.

Safe Travel

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 is important to drive at slower speeds when approaching patches of them.
  • If one must travel, make sure the car is stocked with survival gear such as blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra-warm clothing, a set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
  • If one has a cell phone or other communications device such as a two-way radio available for use, keep the battery charged and keep it on hand whenever traveling. If one should become stranded, one will be able to call for help, advising rescuers of a location.

The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, make sure the vehicle is clear of ice and snow; good vision is key to good driving. Plan stops and keep more distance between cars. Be extra alert and remember that snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Always match 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 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. Snowblowing 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.

Safety in Extreme Cold

•Dress for the season

  • Wear loose, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air between the layers acts as an insulator. Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water-repellent and hooded.
  • Always wear a hat or cap since half of one’s body heat could be lost through an uncovered head.
  • Cover mouths with a scarf to protect lungs from extreme cold.
  • Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves, because fingers maintain more warmth when they touch each other.

•Hypothermia

Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause hypothermia, especially in children and the elderly. Watch for these symptoms:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Uncontrollable shivering followed by a sudden lack of shivering

If a person's body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, get emergency medical assistance immediately. Remove wet clothing, wrap the victim in warm blankets, and give warm, nonalcoholic, noncaffeinated liquids until help arrives.

•Frostbite

People working or playing outdoors during the winter can develop frostbite and not even know it. There is no pain associated with the early stages of frostbite, so learn to watch for these danger signs:

  • First, the skin may feel numb and become flushed. Then it turns white or grayish-yellow. Frostbitten skin feels cold to the touch.
  • If frostbite is suspected, move the victim to a warm area. Cover the affected area with something warm and dry. Never rub it!
  • Then get to a doctor or hospital as quickly as possible.

 

Travel Update:

•Cuomo announced tractor trailers and commercial buses will be banned from certain highways in Western New beginning at 8 p.m. tonight and on portions of the Interstate 81 corridor beginning Wednesday at noon.

Tractor trailers and commercial buses will be banned from the New York State Thruway from Exit 46 (Rochester I-390) to the Pennsylvania border as well as Interstate 190, Interstate 290, State Route 400, U.S. Route 219 from Peters Road to Interstate 90; and State Route 5 from State Route 179 to I-190.

Beginning at noon Wednesday, tractor trailers and commercial buses will be banned on Interstate 81 from the Canadian Border to State Route 104.

The bans will last for the duration of the storm.

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