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Hochul advises New Yorkers to avoid unnecessary travel, as heavy snow & high winds may cause dangerous road conditions in several regions across state


Thu, Jan 6th 2022 04:35 pm

Areas within New York City, Long Island & Mid-Hudson regions could receive up to 6 inches of snow with rates of 1 inch or more per hour at times

√ Western New York & North Country regions forecast to receive a foot or more of lake effect snow through Friday morning; Buffalo Skyway currently closed due to low visibility

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday urged New Yorkers to use caution and avoid unnecessary travel in several parts of the state as two weather systems are expected to produce snow and gusting winds in multiple regions, causing snow and ice-covered roads, low visibility, and potentially dangerous travel conditions through Friday morning.

Western New York and the North Country are expected to receive more than a foot of lake effect snow through Friday, with wind gusts up to 40 mph, causing whiteout conditions at times. In the New York City, Long Island and the Mid-Hudson regions, up to 6 inches or more of snow is expected in some locations, with winds gusting up to 40 mph. Given the forecast, New Yorkers, especially those in downstate regions, are being encouraged to utilize mass transit for commutes.

"With more heavy snow and high winds in the forecast, I'm encouraging New Yorkers to stay off the roads and be prepared for dangerous travel conditions," Hochul said. "Areas in Western New York and the North Country are already experiencing lake effect snow, and we're anticipating up to 6 inches of snow in downstate regions between tonight and tomorrow morning. Please avoid any unnecessary travel to keep yourself safe and to help our maintenance crews out on the roads clear our highways and bridges quickly and safely."

Hochul directed state agencies earlier this week to prepare emergency response assets in anticipation of storm-related impacts in several regions. On Thursday morning, the State Department of Transportation closed the Buffalo Skyway (Route 5) from Ridge Road to Church Street in the City of Buffalo due to poor visibility as a lake effect band delivered several inches of snow per hour.

For areas in Western New York and the North Country, lake effect snow will continue Thursday through Friday night with snow totals reaching a foot or more in some locations. Areas in New York City, Long Island and the Mid-Hudson valley will see up to 6 inches of snow and high winds at times through Friday morning, causing dangerous travel conditions especially during the Friday morning commute.

Multiple weather warnings and advisories have been issued across the state for heavy snow and high winds, as well as lakeshore flooding for Jefferson and Oswego until Friday afternoon. For a complete listing of weather advisories in your area, visit the 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 is activated and will closely monitor conditions, coordinate 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: While continuing its snow and ice response in Western New York, the North Country and other areas across the state, the State Department of Transportation is also preparing for the coastal storm expected to hit downstate. The DOT urges New Yorkers in affected areas to avoid unnecessary travel on Friday morning to allow its snowplow drivers to effectively do their jobs in response to the storm.

To support snow and ice activities in critical areas, 14 staff – including 10 plowtruck operators, two mechanics, two mechanic supervisors, and two mechanic service trucks – are being deployed to the Mid-Hudson region from other regions:

√ Four plow operators, one mechanic, one mechanic supervisor, and one mechanic service truck from the Capital Region.

√ Six plow operators, one mechanic, one mechanic supervisor, and one mechanic service truck from the Mohawk Valley.

All residency locations will remain staffed for 24/7 operation throughout the duration of the event and priority cleanup operations. Fleet mechanics in affected areas will staff all main residency locations 24/7 to perform repairs and keep trucks on the road. Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

1,594 large plowtrucks

149 medium-duty plows

51 towplows

322 large loaders

Supervisors are evaluating road surface conditions and are applying brine pretreatment as needed. Staff in the Lower Hudson Valley will be applying brine pretreatment to all road surfaces that do not have sufficient residual salt. On Long Island, staff will apply brine pretreatment to all I-495 ramps, parkway ramps, elevated structures, and other areas of concern.

Tow services will be utilized at the following locations to clear crashes quickly and help keep traffic moving: I-84 (Dutchess), I-84 (Orange), I-684 (Dutchess), Hutchinson River Parkway, Cross County Parkway, Saw Mill River Parkway, Sprain Brook State Parkway, and Taconic State Parkway. The need for additional tow services will be reevaluated as the event develops. HELP truck beats and hours of service will be extended on Long Island.

For up-to-date travel information, call 511, visit https://www.511ny.org/ or download the free 511NY mobile app.

•Thruway Authority: The Thruway Authority has 677 operators and supervisors ready to respond with 230 large snow plows, 118 medium snow plows, 11 tow plows and 66 loaders across the state with more than 119,000 tons of road salt on hand. Snow and ice crews are staffed for 24/7 operations across the state. Additional resources can be shifted to impacted regions as needed.

The Thruway Authority's Buffalo division is actively engaged in snow and ice operations for the ongoing lake effect storm. Its operations center was activated Wednesday evening and will remain open for the duration of the event.

The New York division is engaged in anti-icing operations in advance of tonight's predicted snowfall, and crews will fully deployed when the coastal storm arrives.

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, 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. 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 office 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 the state. Agency staff will track utilities' work throughout the event and ensure utilities shift appropriate staffing to regions anticipated to be most impacted.

•New York State Police: State Police are prepared to deploy additional troopers as needed to affected areas. All State Police four-wheel drive and specialized vehicles are staged and ready for immediate response, and all emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.

•New York Power Authority / Canal Corp.: The New York Power Authority and the Canal Corp. staff are performing preparations to ensure all facilities, assets and equipment are secured and ready. The Power Authority is prepared to support power restoration activities if needed.

•Metropolitan Transportation Authority: The MTA is closely monitoring weather conditions to ensure safe, reliable service. MTA employees will be poised to spread salt, clear platforms and stairs of snow and ice, and keep signals, switches, and third rail operating. MTA Bridges and Tunnels is advising motorists to avoid unnecessary travel and drive at reduced speeds. Metro-North Railroad will operate on a Saturday schedule with additional trains. New York City articulated buses are being fitted with chains ahead of the Friday morning rush hour. Long Island Rail Road plans to operate a regular weekday schedule.

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, Long Island Rail Road Train Time and Metro-North Train Time.

•Port Authority of New York and New Jersey: The Port Authority is preparing for an expected winter snow event Thursday night into Friday morning. Travelers using 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. Speed restrictions at Port Authority bridges also may be implemented as conditions dictate. For the latest information on weather-related impacts to Port Authority airports and other facilities, please check social media, sign up for PA alerts or download one of the PA mobile apps.

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