New York Governor Warns Against Winter Weather

Governor Hochul Cautions Travelers As Multiple Regions Across the State Will be Impacted by Winter Weather Today and Tomorrow

New York (STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul cautioned travelers across the state as wintry weather conditions, including heavy snow, high winds and icing, are expected to create difficult driving conditions in multiple regions today through tomorrow.  Snow, sleet or freezing rain will cause slippery roads and limited visibility throughout the day Sunday.  Heavy snow is also expected east of Lake Ontario tonight with total accumulations of around two feet in some locations and winds gusting as high as 35 mph through Monday night. Western New York, North Country, Central New York and Mohawk Valley will primarily be impacted.

“While New Yorkers are no strangers to winter weather, I’m urging everyone in impacted areas to avoid unnecessary travel today and tomorrow as we continue to experience a mixed bag of snow, wind and icy conditions,” said Governor Hochul.  “New York stands ready to support any of our local partners with response operations and our crews will continue working around the clock to keep our roadways as safe as possible.”

Multiple weather warnings, watches and advisories have been issued across the state for heavy snow, high winds, and icing conditions through Monday night.  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

The State Department of Transportation is responding to the current weather event in multiple regions with the following assets:

  • 606 snow plows
  • 325 large loaders
  • 150 medium plows
  • 52 tow plows
  • 41 snow blowers
  • 22 pickup trucks with plows
  • 20 graders
  • 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 246 large snow plows, 122 medium snow plows, 11 tow plows and 64 loaders across the state with more than 122,000 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 e-mails 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 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 New York 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 Corporation

The New York Power Authority and the Canal Corporation 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 where ice exists, and keep signals, switches, and third rail operating.  MTA Bridges and Tunnels is advising motorists to use caution when driving on icy roadways and drive at reduced speeds.

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 monitoring weather conditions. 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 facilities are encouraged to reach out to carriers and airlines directly for the latest information on delays and cancelations.  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 Travel

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.

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.
  • It’s important 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.

Power Outage

If experiencing a power outage, New Yorkers should:

Turn off or disconnect major appliances and other equipment, e.g., computers, in case of a momentary power surge that can damage these devices.  Keep one light turned on so you know when power returns.  Consider using surge protectors wherever you use electronic equipment.
Call your utility provider to notify them of the outage and listen to local broadcasts for official information.  For a list of utilities, visit the State Department of Public Service.
Check to see if your neighbors have power.  Check on people with access or functional needs.
Use only flashlights for emergency lighting – candles pose the risk of fire.
Keep refrigerators and freezer doors closed – most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours.  An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately four (4) hours.  A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
Do not use a charcoal grill indoors and do not use a gas stove for heat – they could give off harmful levels of carbon monoxide.
In cold weather, stay warm by dressing in layers and minimizing time spent outdoors.  Be aware of cold stress symptoms (i.e., hypothermia) and seek proper medical attention if symptoms appear.
If you are in a tall building, take the stairs and move to the lowest level of the building.  If trapped in an elevator, wait for assistance.  Do not attempt to force the doors open.  Remain patient – there is plenty of air and the interior of the elevator is designed for passenger safety.
Remember to provide fresh, cool water for your pets.
Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car.  Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion and dangerous driving conditions.  If you must drive during a blackout, remember to obey the 4-way stop rule at intersections with non-functioning traffic signals.
Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not be working.