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Hochul directs agencies to deploy emergency response assets as winter storm will impact majority of state with heavy snow & high winds


Fri, Mar 11th 2022 12:30 pm

Winter storm watches in effect through Saturday for Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, North Country & Capital regions

√ Some locations could see up to a foot or more of snow with snowfall rates up to 1 inch per hour

√ Wind gusts topping 45 mph could make travel conditions dangerous late Saturday

Gov. Kathy Hochul has directed state agencies to deploy emergency response assets as a winter weather system is poised to deliver another round of heavy snow across most of New York beginning Friday night and continuing through Saturday. A widespread 6 to 12 inches are expected for most areas, with parts of the North Country, Mohawk Valley and Central New York forecast to receive up to 18 inches of snow. Snowfall rates could reach an inch per hour Saturday mid-morning to afternoon, and wind gusts are expected to top 45 mph in some locations later in the day.

"Though the clocks are changing this weekend, New York isn't done with winter weather just yet," Hochul said. "With another winter storm set to blanket much of New York this weekend, I am directing state agencies to deploy emergency response assets to areas expected to face heavy snow and gusty winds. While we're lucky that this storm falls on a weekend when traffic is lighter, I encourage New Yorkers to remain vigilant and take common-sense precautions this weekend: Avoid driving if possible so our plows can keep the roads clear, and monitor your local forecast to assess local conditions."

Depending on the track of the storm, rain could mix with snow on Saturday and produce lower snow amounts in parts of the Capital, Mid-Hudson and Mohawk Valley regions. New York City, Long Island and the lower Mid-Hudson are forecast to receive an inch of rain, and parts of the upper Mid-Hudson Region could see up to 4 inches of snowfall. On Saturday night, winds are expected to gust from 25 to 45 mph. High winds coupled with wet snow could lead to scattered power outages and hazardous travel conditions due to blowing and drifting snow.

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "Just when we thought we might be done with winter, Mother Nature is sending more snow our way. With up to a foot of snow forecast in some locations, this system is expected to create dangerous travel conditions throughout the next 36 hours, and New Yorkers should do their best to stay off the roads during this time. We have been in touch with our local partners and will continue to work closely with our them throughout the duration of the storm. We stand ready to assist in any way we can."

For a complete listing of weather alerts and forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website at https://alerts.weather.gov.

Agency Preparations

•Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Emergency Operations Center will be activated this evening to monitor weather and travel conditions, coordinate State agency response operations, and communicate with local governments ahead of and during the event. The State's stockpiles are prepared to deploy assets to localities to support any storm-related needs, including pumps, chainsaws, sandbags, generators, cots, blankets, and bottled water.

•The New York State Department of Transportation is preparing to respond with 3,462 supervisors and operators available statewide. Additionally, 75 incident command system personnel are available to support the response as needed.

To support snow and ice activities in critical areas, a total of 17 staff, including 14 plow truck operators, two supervisors and one equipment operator instructor, and five plow trucks are being deployed to the Central New York and Southern Tier regions.

All staff members are currently preparing for travel and will be in place by Friday afternoon before the onset of precipitation. The need for additional resources, including operators, trucks, mechanics and equipment operator instructors, will be reevaluated as conditions warrant throughout the event.

All residency locations will remain staffed for 24/7 operations throughout the duration of the event and priority cleanup operations.

All available snow and ice equipment is ready to deploy. Fleet mechanics in affected areas will be staffing all main residency locations 24/7 to perform repairs and keep trucks on the road.

Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 1,737 large and medium-duty plow trucks
  • 51 tow plows
  • 322 loaders
  • 37 snowblowers

Tow services will be utilized at the following locations: I-84 (Orange), I-684 (Putnam), I-390 (Steuben), I-86 (Chemung) and I-81 (Onondaga). Tow services will also be utilized on the 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 during the day Saturday in the Mid-Hudson Region.

Traffic management centers in affected regions will be posting weather-related messages on variable message signs that will be used to support real time incidents and potential vehicle restrictions (if necessary).

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

•The Thruway Authority is ready to respond with 680 operators and supervisors available. Statewide equipment numbers and resources are listed below:

  • 367 large and medium-duty plow trucks
  • 11 tow plows
  • 67 loaders
  • 119,000 tons of 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 information, live traffic cameras, and navigation assistance while on the go. Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert emails, which provide the latest traffic conditions along the thruway.

•Department of Environmental Conservation environmental conservation police officers, forest rangers, emergency management staff and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation, actively patrolling areas and infrastructure impacted by severe weather. All available assets, including sawyers, are positioned to assist with any emergency response.

DEC is advising backcountry users to be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions due to weather that could increase the risk of avalanches on slides or steep, open terrain. More information is available here.

DEC reminds those responsible for the large-scale removal and disposal of snow to follow best management practices to help reduce the potential for pollutants like salt, sand, oils, trash and other debris in snow from affecting water quality. More information is available here.

•New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation 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 6,750 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response, repair and restoration efforts across New York. Agency staff will track utilities' work throughout the event and ensure utilities shift appropriate staffing to regions experiencing the greatest impacts.

•New York State Police will be closely monitoring conditions and will be prepared to deploy additional troopers as needed. All State Police four-wheel drive and specialized vehicles, including snowmobiles and utility-terrain vehicles, are staged and ready for immediate response.

•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.

Customers are encouraged to check new.mta.info for the latest service updates, and to use caution while navigating the system.

Safety Tips: Winter Travel

Per Hochul’s office: The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms are transportation-related crashes. Before getting behind the wheel, make sure 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.

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 important to drive at slower speeds when approaching patches of them.

√ Make sure your car is stocked with 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.

√ While driving, keep vehicles clear of ice and snow.

√ Plan stops and keep distance between cars. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

For more safety tips, visit the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website at https://www.dhses.ny.gov/safety-and-prevention.

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