DHSES - New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

02/26/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/27/2020 09:11

Governor Cuomo Directs State Agencies to Deploy Response Assets as Heavy Snow and High Winds are Forecasted for Portions of Upstate New York

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed state agencies to deploy storm response assets in Western New York, Central New York and the North Country ahead of the heavy snowfall and high winds that are expected to impact the state from Wednesday through Saturday. In terms of the highest accumulations, current forecasts are calling for the possibility of up to three feet of snow in the western portion of the North Country and up to two feet in the southern portion of Western New York.

While the state is preparing its resources and coordinating response efforts with local partners, Governor Cuomo is also urging New Yorkers to ensure they are prepared for potentially hazardous travel conditions and keep a close eye on local weather forecasts for changing developments.

'As severe winter weather moves across portions of the state tonight and continues into the weekend, I am urging New Yorkers in these areas to be prepared and use caution when driving due to reduced visibility and high winds,' Governor Cuomo said. 'I have directed our state assets to mobilize additional resources in the areas that will be hit hardest, and we will be actively monitoring the conditions and assisting our localpartners as needed.'

By Saturday, forecasts are calling for at least a foot of snow to be on the ground in the portions of the Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York and North Country regions that border Lake Ontario. The highest snow accumulation totals are expected to be within the Tug Hill region of the North Country, where up to three feet of snow is possible. Additionally, the southern portion of Western New York is expected to see up to two feet of snow. In both areas, snowfall rates could potentially reach over two inches per hour at times with winds gusting up to 40 mph, which could make for dangerous driving conditions. Additionally, areas along the Lake Ontario shoreline may experience lakeshore flooding due to the combination of high-water levels and high waves. This is especially possible in bays, inlets, and other low-lying areas along the shore. Significant shoreline erosion could also occur.

Elsewhere in the state, snowfall is expected to be significantly less, with two to four inches expected in the Southern Tier and southern portions of the Mohawk Valley and Finger Lakes regions. New Yorkers in the Capital Region, Mid-Hudson, New York City and Long Island regions should expect primarily rain.

The National Weather Service has issued numerous watches, warnings, advisories, associated with this storm. New Yorkers can view the complete listing of these notices, as well as access the latest forecasts, by visiting the National Weather Service website here.

Agency Preparations

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Emergency Operations Center will activate to Level 4 - Enhanced Monitoring Mode - at 8 a.m. Thursday morning and will monitor weather conditions, coordinate state response operations and stay in contact with localities throughout the duration of the event. State Stockpiles are also prepared to deploy assets to localities affected by storm-related needs. Additionally, the leadership from the Office of Emergency Management has coordinated with partner agencies to strategically pre-deploy snowmobiles and other assets that support rescue operations to the areas expected to be most impacted.

Department of Transportation

The State Department of Transportation is prepared to respond with 3,802 operators and supervisors available. Regional crews are currently engaged in snow and ice preparations and ice jam monitoring. All residency locations will remain staffed for 24/7 operation throughout the duration of the event and priority cleanup operations.

To support snow and ice activities in critical areas, a total of 54 staff and 22 plow trucks are being deployed. They are being distributed as follows:

  • Central New York is receiving 12 plow operators, three supervisors, and six plow trucks from the Mid-Hudson Region; eight plow operators, one supervisor, and four plow trucks from the Southern Tier and one incident command system specialist from the Capital Region.
  • Western New York will be receiving 10 plow operators, two supervisors and five plow trucks from the Southern Tier.
  • The North Country will be receiving four plow operators, one equipment operator instructor, and two plow trucks from the Mid-Hudson Region.

The need for additional resources will be re-evaluated as conditions warrant. All available 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 assets are as follows:

  • 1,583 large plow trucks
  • 328 large loaders
  • 179 medium plow trucks
  • 51 tow plows
  • 40 snowblowers
  • 19 graders

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 703 operators and supervisors ready to deploy 244 Large Snow Plows, 104 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 62 Loaders across the state with more than 119,500 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 is also encouraging 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 likely to be impacted by severe weather. All available assets are positioned ready to assist with any emergency response.

New York State Police

The New York State Police has instructed all Troopers to closely monitor conditions for any problems and will be prepared to deploy additional patrols in affected areas as needed. All four-wheel drive vehicles are in-service and all specialty vehicles, including snowmobiles and utility vehicles, are staged and ready for deployment.

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 4,500 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response and restoration across New York State. Department of Public Service staff will track the utilities' work throughout the storm event and will ensure the utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to experience the greatest impact.

Safety Tips

  • 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.

For more winter weather safety information, please visit the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info.