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Emergency response assets prepare, as heavy snow, sleet & ice forecast to impact most of state

Submitted

Mon, Feb 15th 2021 11:15 am

Locations will receive 6 to 12 inches of snow; some areas could see a mixture of sleet, ice & freezing rain

Tuesday morning commute could be ‘problematic’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday directed state agencies to prepare emergency response assets in advance of a major winter weather system forecast to impact much of the state with heavy snow, cold temperatures and ice in many areas. The storm system is expected to begin Monday morning and continue through Tuesday evening. Most locations across the state are forecast to receive snow accumulations from 6 to 12 inches, while some areas could be impacted by a mixture of sleet and ice up to 1/5 of an inch. Travel conditions could be extremely difficult at times, especially late Monday evening through Tuesday morning, when heavier snow could combine with gusty winds and rapidly decreasing temperatures.

"Forecasts are calling for New York to experience another round of winter weather early this week, and state agencies have already begun readying assets and personnel for a response," Cuomo said. "Not only may some areas of the state see up to a foot of snow, but this storm is also expected to bring ice and a wintery mix to areas downstate, creating the potential for some very dangerous travel conditions. As it approaches, New Yorkers should take the time now to prepare their households for this storm and pay close attention to local weather forecasts."

For Western and Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, the North Country, Capital Region, northern areas of the Mid-Hudson and the Southern Tier, snow is forecast to hit in multiple rounds with most locations seeing either light snow or a mixture of sleet and snow during the day Monday with a switch to heavier snow late Monday evening into Tuesday morning. Snow accumulations through Tuesday are expected to range from 3 to 6 inches with some locations topping 12 inches of snow. Downstate areas could see a mixture of sleet and/or ice, with accumulations up to a 1/10 of an inch. For the North Country, moderate heavy snow is possible Monday night through Tuesday morning with snow accumulations exceeding 12 inches in some places.

For New York City, Long Island and the lower Mid-Hudson Region, a wintry mix of freezing rain and/or sleet will begin Monday evening. North of the city, temperatures are expected to remain in the mid to upper 20s, which could result in up to 1/5 inches of ice across portions of the Lower Hudson Valley. Temperatures in New York City will climb into the mid 30s on Tuesday, changing precipitation to rain.

Weather forecasters are tracking another widespread precipitation event for Thursday and Friday that could bring even more snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain to the state.

Weather watches have been issued for several parts of the state. For a complete listing of weather watches and warnings, visit an area's National Weather Service website.

Agency Preparations

•Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' emergency operations center remains activated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will closely monitor weather conditions, coordinate state response operations and remain in contact with localities throughout the duration of the event. State stockpiles are prepared to deploy assets to localities to support any storm-related needs, including pumps, chainsaws, sandbags, generators, cots, blankets and bottled water.

•Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation is prepared to respond with more than 3,600 operators and supervisors, as well as the following assets:

  • 1,612 large snowplows
  • 313 large loaders
  • 175 medium-duty plows
  • 80 chippers
  • 73 wheeled and tracked excavators
  • 52 tow plows
  • 37 snowblowers
  • 36 traffic tower platforms
  • 18 graders
  • 14 tree crew bucket trucks
  • 11 pickup trucks with plows

•Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 691 operators and supervisors ready to respond with 248 large snowplows, 102 medium snowplows, 11 tow plows and 61 loaders across the state with more than 109,000 tons of road salt on hand.

Variable message signs 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 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 emails here, which provide the latest traffic conditions along the thruway.

•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. Park visitors should check parks.ny.gov or call their local park offices 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. Department of Public Service staff will track the utilities' work throughout the storm event and will ensure utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to be impacted the most.

•New York Power Authority / Canal Corp.

The New York Power Authority and the Canal Corp. staff has performed preparations for the forecasted weather to ensure all facilities, assets and equipment are secured and ready. The Power Authority is prepared to support power restoration activities if needed.

•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.

•Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Metropolitan Transportation Authority is closely monitoring weather conditions to ensure safe, reliable service. MTA employees will be poised to spread salt and clear platforms and stairs of snow and ice, keep signals, switches, and third rail operating Customers are encouraged to check new.mta.info for the latest service updates, and to use caution while navigating the system. Customers should also sign up for real-time service alerts via text or email. These alerts are also available via the MTA's apps: MYmta, Metro-North Train Time and Long Island Rail Road Train Time.

•Port Authority

The Port Authority is prepared for the storm and urges travelers utilizing all its facilities to use caution. Speed restrictions may be in effect at the bridges as well as along roadways to and from the crossings. Passengers through the Port Authority's airports, bus terminal and bus station are encouraged to reach out to carriers and airlines directly for the latest information on delays, cancelations or rebookings. For the latest information about Port Authority facilities, please check social media, sign up for PA alerts or download one of the PA mobile apps.

Safety Tips

•Winter Safety

Some of the most important tips for safe driving – per the governor’s office – include:

√ When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.

√ Use caution on bridges as ice can form quicker than on roads.

√ If you must travel, make sure your car is stocked with survival gear such as 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 cell phone or other communications device such as a 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.

√ 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.

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