Albany, NY - January 22, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that all state roads, including the New York State Thruway, are open and cleared following yesterday’s winter storm with traffic moving well under normal conditions. The Governor continued to caution New Yorkers to take precautions to guard against sub-zero temperatures that are continuing across the State, especially in upstate regions.
“While New York State roads have been open and clear for commuters, we continue to urge residents - especially upstate - to take precautions against the extreme cold,” Governor Cuomo said. “In these weather conditions, New Yorkers should exercise caution whether they’re traveling or remaining home. These low temperatures are expected to remain with us for the next few days, so it’s important that citizens do everything they can to stay safe and warm.”
The National Weather Service has posted Wind Chill Warnings in the southern Adirondacks, western Mohawk Valley, Schoharie Valley & central/southeastern Catskills with wind chill readings -25 to -40 degrees. It has also issued a Wind Chill Advisory for the greater Capital District including the Saratoga and Glens Falls areas, central Mohawk Valley, Taconics, and the mid-Hudson Valley with wind chill readings -15 to -24 degrees.
Steps taken to ensure readiness include:
Roads and Bridges
Roads in Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley are open and traffic is moving. Motorists need to be aware that the extremely cold temperatures could result in icy patches on the roadways, and they should continue to drive with caution. Crews from the New York State Department of Transportation will continue to be out in force through tomorrow morning, pushing snow off highway shoulders and salting roads to prevent melting snow from icing over.
All roadways are open at all nine MTA bridges and tunnels, though motorists are asked to reduce speed because roadways remain wet from de-icing operations. Traffic was light to moderate at all bridges and tunnels during the rush hour.
At the Governor’s direction, the State yesterday activated 239 plows, 27 front loaders and 428 operators in Long Island, including 30 plows and 71 operators deployed from upstate. The state also had private contractors standing by on Long Island to assist with snow removal. In the Hudson Valley, the State activated 227 plows, 53 front loaders and 491 operators deployed for snow removal operations.
All Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) services ran smoothly for the morning rush hour commute, with only minor and scattered delays due to the effects of deep snow and bitter cold. Thousands of workers spent the night clearing snow from tracks, platforms, stairways and roadways.
Subway service was close to normal, as trains which had been stored on underground express tracks overnight were put into service on schedule. Buses operated at 90 percent of normal service to accommodate lower demand and road conditions, and is returning to full strength as conditions improve. No buses reported any trouble moving, as all articulated buses and most standard buses were equipped with tire chains.
Subway ridership was only about 50 percent of normal and bus ridership was light to moderate. Long Island Rail Road ridership was down about 70 percent during the morning rush and Metro-North Railroad ridership was down about 40 percent. The LIRR is running on a weekend schedule, supplemented with buses on the West Hempstead and Greenport branches, and will add at least eight extra eastbound trains during the afternoon rush. LIRR will return to a normal weekday schedule Thursday. Metro-North ran 90 percent of normal service during the morning rush, and will run normal service for the rest of the day.
Travelers can monitor Service Status at www.mta.info for the most up-to-date information.
Governor Cuomo offered the following safety tips, particularly with the forecasted sub-zero temperatures:
Electric generators can provide you with piece of mind and convenience when there is a temporary loss of electric service during cold weather. Be aware that fire hazards are greatly increased in the winter because alternate heating sources often are used without following proper safety precautions.
Follow these safety guidelines when operating a generator:
- Before installing a generator, be sure to properly disconnect from your utility electrical service. If possible, have your generator installed by a qualified electrician.
- Run generators outside, downwind of structures. NEVER run a generator indoors. Deadly carbon monoxide gas from the generators exhaust can spread throughout enclosed spaces. Install a carbon monoxide detector.
- Fuel spilled on a hot generator can cause an explosion. If your generator has a detachable fuel tank remove it before refilling. If this is not possible, shut off the generator and let it cool before refilling.
- Do not exceed the rated capacity of your generator. Most small, home-use portable generators produce 350 to 12,000 watts of power. Overloading your generator can damage it and the appliances connected to it, and may cause a fire. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
- Keep children away from generators at all times.
Carbon Monoxide Safety
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent, deadly killer claiming about 1,000 lives each year in the United States. Such common items as automotive exhaust, home heating systems and obstructed chimneys can produce the colorless, odorless gas. The gas can also be produced by poorly vented generators, kerosene heaters, gas grills and other items used for cooking and heating when used improperly during the winter months.
- NEVER run generators indoors. Open a window slightly when using a kerosene heater.
- NEVER use charcoal to cook indoors.
- NEVER use a gas oven to heat your home.
- Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sleepiness, headaches and dizziness. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, ventilate the area and get to a hospital.
Prevent Water Pipes from Freezing
To prevent frozen water pipes, follow these tips:
- Wrap pipes in insulation or layers of old newspapers – cover the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture.
- Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing. Let hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall.
- Teach family members how to shut off water valves.
- Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to un-insulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall.
- Make sure heat is left on and set no lower than 55 degrees.
If you plan to be away:
- Have someone check your house daily to make sure the heat is still on to prevent freezing, or;
- Drain and shut off the water system (except indoor sprinkler systems).
If Pipes Freeze
- Make sure you and your family knows how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst. Stopping the water flow minimizes the damage to your home. Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent.
- NEVER try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.
- Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.
If You Lose Power
If you lose electrical service during the winter, follow these tips:
- First, call your utility to determine area repair schedules.
- Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate when power has been restored.
- If heat goes out during a winter storm, keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need.
Alternative Heating Safety Tips
Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, woodstove, etc. always make sure you have proper ventilation. Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces.
Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors – and make sure they work.
If you use kerosene heaters to supplement your regular heating fuel, or as an emergency source of heat, follow these safety tips:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use only the correct fuel for your unit.
- Refuel outdoors ONLY and only when the unit is cool.
- Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.
- When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.
- When venturing outdoors, wear loose, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air between the layers acts as an insulator. Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill.
- Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded.
- Always wear a hat or cap on your head – half of the body’s heat can be lost because of an uncovered head.
- Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
- Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves because fingers maintain more warmth when they touch each other.
- Cold temperatures put an extra strain on your heart. Heavy exertion, such as shoveling snow, clearing debris or pushing a car, can increase the risk of a heart attack. Stay warm, dress warm and SLOW DOWN when working outdoors. Take frequent rests to avoid over exertion. If you feel chest pain -- STOP and seek help immediately.
For more information, and a list of essential emergency safety items to keep in your home, visit the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Winter Safety Page.