Albany, NY - February 8, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to prepare for heavy snow which will impact the entire state, especially the Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island regions late Wednesday, February 8 into Thursday, February 9. Heavy, wet snow, along with strong gusting winds are expected early Thursday morning, which will transition to dry, powdery snow Thursday afternoon. In anticipation of the winter storm, Governor Cuomo has directed state transportation authorities to take measures to ensure roadways remain as safe as possible for motorists across New York.
"As Mother Nature once again tests the resilience and strength of this state, I urge New Yorkers to plan ahead, stay informed, and above all, stay safe this weekend," Governor Cuomo said. “I have directed state agencies to closely monitor conditions and to clear roadways as quickly as possible in order to avoid accidents and keep our roadways safe. I encourage everyone in the path of these storms to use extra caution and avoid unnecessary travel during these hazardous weather conditions."
A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for Sullivan County from 12 a.m. Thursday until 12 p.m. Thursday, for Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester from 12 a.m. Thursday until 6 p.m. Thursday, and for Columbia, Dutchess and Ulster Counties from 12 a.m. Thursday until 6 p.m. Thursday. Snow will develop after midnight. The period of greatest impact will be the morning and afternoon commutes on Thursday where snow rates could exceed 2 inches per hour. Areas could see 6 to 12 inches of total snow accumulation with gusts approaching 35 mph. New York City could see 8 to 12 inches of snow for the duration of the event.
A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for Delaware County from 12 a.m. Thursday until 12 p.m. Thursday, and from 2 a.m. Thursday until 6 p.m. Thursday for Albany, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady and Schoharie Counties. The Capital Region will see snow beginning around 1 a.m. with the heaviest snowfall of 1 to 2 inches per hour during the morning commute. Snow will taper off by midafternoon. Southern parts of the Capital Region could see 6 to 10 inches of snow with 3 to 6 inches in the immediate Albany area.
Tandem Trailers Banned on I-84 and NYS Thruway (I-87) South of Exit 17
Tandem Trailers will be restricted on Interstate 84 in anticipation of heavy snowfall. Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, February 9 until 4 p.m., tandem trailers will be banned from Interstate 84 in both directions, from the Pennsylvania border to the Connecticut border. Tandem truck drivers who are planning to travel on I-84 are urged seek alternative routes or travel early.
In addition, the New York State Thruway Authority is banning all tandem vehicles (long and short) on I-87 in both directions south of Exit 17 (Newburgh – Scranton – I-84 – NY Routes 17K & 300) beginning at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, February 9 and remaining in effect until further notice.
State Agency Preparations
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Emergency Management is coordinating preparations and resource allocations with state agencies and local governments in anticipation of the storm. The State Emergency Operations and Watch Centers will be staffed for enhanced monitoring through the day tomorrow.
Staff from State Office of Emergency Management, Department of Transportation, and State Police will be staffing the Nassau and Suffolk County Emergency Operations Centers and State Office of Emergency Management staff will also deploy to New York City Emergency Management’s Emergency Operations Center. The stockpile in Guilderland, Albany County is prepared with two High Axle Vehicles, each equipped with blankets and hand tools, one eight person tracked SUV, three enclosed, six seat, tracked Utility Vehicles, and two, two seat, tracked Utility Vehicles. The Brentwood stockpile in Nassau County has staged two High Axle Vehicles each equipped with blankets and hand tools and the Brentwood & JFK Airport Stockpiles each have one Sandbagger and there are 195,000 sandbags; various generators, light towers and pumps ready to deploy if necessary.
The Thruway Authority’s winter weather preparations include a 24-hour staff rotation for maintenance personnel, snow removal equipment ready for deployment, and ample salt and fuel supplies to keep the roadways clear and safe. The New York State Thruway Authority has more than 600 operators and supervisors ready to deploy 197 Large Snow Plows, 110 Medium Snow Plows and 53 Loaders across the state with more than 107,000 tons of road salt on hand. For this storm, the Thruway Authority is shifting resources to increase snow operations in the affected regions. Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of winter weather conditions on the Thruway.
The following measures have been taken for downstate bridges.
New NY Bridge (NNYB) Wind Storm Preparation:
- All project related cranes, barges, equipment, and material will be secured
- Two Tug Boats will patrol the Hudson River near the New NY Bridge and the Tappan Zee
- Snow removal equipment will be prepared to clear the construction site and barges
- Continue monitoring of GPS tracking of barge and equipment on project site
Tappan Zee Bridge Wind Storm Preparation:
- Wind speeds being monitored by TZB Personnel
- Implementation of TZB High Wind Restrictions for Tractor Trailers based on wind speeds as detected by electronic monitors on the Bridge
- Wrecker tow truck crews are on standby to address any accidents / disabled vehicles
- Vehicular diversion plans are in place if needed
Motorists are encouraged to sign up for TRANSalerts e-mails, which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway. Thruway travelers can also get real-time updates by following @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.
The New York State Department of Transportation has more than 3,823 operators and supervisors statewide and is ready to respond with 1,496 large plow/dump trucks, 207 medium plow/dump trucks, 332 loaders, 46 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, 62 tow plows, 20 graders and 13 pickup trucks with plows. Additionally, 81 staff have been pre-deployed from non-impacted areas of the state to the regions anticipating this storm. The Department of Transportation also has more than 397,000 tons of road salt on hand.
Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511 or by accessing www.511ny.org before traveling. The free service allows users to check road conditions and transit information. Mobile users can download the updated, free 511NY mobile app from the iTunes or Google Play stores. The app now features Drive mode, which provides audible alerts along a chosen route while a user is driving, warning them about incidents and construction. Users can set a destination prior to departing and receive information on up to three routes.
All New Yorkers can obtain emergency information through NY-ALERT, the State’s free, all-hazards, web-based alert and notification system. To subscribe, visit nyalert.gov. If you do not own or have access to a computer, call toll-free 1-888-697-6972 or download the app on your smartphone at ialertz.com.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has made extensive preparations for personnel and equipment at all of its facilities. Operations are in place to ensure that facilities can be operated safely. The airports, bridges, tunnels and PATH also have weather desks where key personnel analyze weather reports and deploy staff and equipment.
The Port Authority has made extensive preparations for personnel and equipment at all of its facilities. Operations personnel will work 12-hour shifts to ensure that facilities can be operated safely. The airports, bridges, tunnels and PATH also have snow desks where key personnel analyze weather reports and deploy staff and equipment. The Port Authority also is in contact with the states of New York and New Jersey, as well as other local and federal officials and agencies to coordinate response to the winter weather event.
The Port Authority urges bus travelers to check with their carriers before going to the bus terminals since many public and private carriers may cancel or delay service if conditions warrant. The agency also may impose speed restrictions on its crossings, or close them entirely based on weather conditions.
The Port Authority has the following winter weather equipment and supplies ready at its major transportation facilities:
- Hundreds of pieces of snow equipment at its airports, including melters that can liquefy up to 500 tons of snow an hour and plows that can clear snow at 40 mph;
- Dozens of pieces of snow equipment at its bridges and tunnels;
- Thousands of tons of salt and sand for airport roads and parking lots, plus thousands of tons of salt for the bridges and tunnels;
- Hundreds of thousands of gallons of liquid anti-icer chemicals at the airports, which prevent snow and ice from bonding to runways and taxiways, plus thousands of tons of solid de-icers, which break up snow and ice already on the ground;
- Plow-equipped trains, liquid snow-melting agent trains and a "jet engine" plow to remove snow from PATH tracks, and snow blowers, plows and spreaders to clear station entrances, roads that serve PATH's 13 stations, and various support facilities.
For up-to-the-minute updates on Port Authority crossings, airports and the PATH system, travelers are encouraged to sign up for Port Authority alerts at www.paalerts.com. Travelers may also call 511 or visit 511NY.org or 511NJ.org for further information on highway conditions.
With a storm of this magnitude, airlines sometimes cancel flights in advance, so travelers should check with their carriers to make sure their flight will be taking off before going to the airport. If warranted, the Port Authority also has supplies of cots and other essential items ready to accommodate ticketed passengers who may become stranded at the airports.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Bridges and Tunnels: Command Center is activating additional weather desks and monitoring conditions continuously to ensure efficient deployment of personnel and resources. Electronic weather sensors are functional and all facilities have the ability to monitor weather and roadway conditions. There are more than 9,000 tons of roadway de-icer on hand and more than 100 pieces of storm fighting equipment including trucks and plows are ready.
Subways and Buses: New York City Transit will monitor conditions for subways and buses continuously via its “Incident Command Center” (ICC) situation room, and up to 2,900 snow-clearing personnel will be on duty for the storm, staged throughout the system and working 12-hour shifts. Snow-fighting equipment will include more than 1,000 snow melting devices at switches, about 1,500 3rd rail heaters, about 80 “scraper shoes” on trains, 10 snowthrowers, four jetblowers, and seven de-icer train cars. Buses will have tires chained. There will be a 20 percent reduction in local, limited and SBS bus service during the Thursday morning rush. Express subway service on A, B, E, D, F, N, Q, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 will end early Thursday night and begin later to facilitate underground storage of trains on express tracks. Previously planned subway maintenance, rehabilitation and construction projects (such as FASTRACK) will be canceled Wednesday overnight and Thursday.
Railroads: Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road are deploying extra staff, specialized equipment, and continuously monitoring conditions ahead of the storm. This includes up to 360 snowblowers, up to 35 pickup truck plows, and up to 7 rail-bound jets. Before a winter storm, snow fighting equipment is winterized, tested and positioned strategically throughout both railroads to start operation as soon as snow accumulations begin. Protective heat circuits are verified to be operational, air brake lines are purged of any moisture to prevent them from freezing, electric trains are fitted with special third rail shoes to prevent snow from accumulating, exposed shoes are treated with de-icer, and exposed couplers are covered to keep snow out. Door panels are also sprayed with an anti-freeze agent and rescue equipment is fueled. Scheduled track work will be canceled to allow personnel to concentrate efforts on storm preparation and response. During the storm, anti-freeze trains will be deployed throughout the systems to spray de-icer on the third rail in an effort to prevent ice-build-up, and non-passenger patrol trains will operate along the right-of-way to prevent snowdrifts from forming on the tracks. At stations, extra personnel will pre-salt platforms before the storm and clear platforms of snow during and after the storm. Waiting rooms will be kept open around the clock to provide shelter for customers waiting for trains.
All MTA customers are encouraged to:
- Check www.mta.info for updates, including modified emergency schedules.
- Sign up for email and text message alerts.
- Follow MTA on Facebook and Twitter.
- Listen to television and radio news to also find out how train service is affected by the weather.
- Call the the Customer Information Center at 511 (in Connecticut call 877-690-5114). The Information Center will have a taped message upfront describing current service conditions. This is an important element in keeping you informed. The volume of calls at the Information Center will increase dramatically during a weather emergency, and you will likely experience delays getting through to a representative.
- Listen for public address announcements at stations and on board trains if you are already traveling.
- Always watch your step and watch for icy conditions in station parking lots, and on station sidewalks, stairs, and platforms. Remember: Ice tends to form more quickly on train platforms than on other surfaces. Even if a platform looks clear, it can have icy patches.
- Always use stair handrails. Water dripping from coats, boots, and umbrellas can ice up with the slightest temperature drop, making stairs very slippery. A firm grip on a handrail can prevent serious injury.
- Always watch for slippery conditions, even after you board your train. Snow, slush, and ice from boots make train floors slippery.
- Always avoid moving from car to car. Icy conditions exist in the areas between cars.
- Use caution driving to and from stations.
It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, 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 winter driving include:
- When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
- If you must travel, make sure your car is stocked with survival gear like 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.
Winterize Your Vehicle
Preparing your vehicle for winter storms now will help ensure your vehicle is in good working order when you need it most.
Have a mechanic check the following items on your vehicle:
- Wipers and windshield washer fluid
- Ignition system
- Exhaust system
- Flashing hazard lights
- Oil level
Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. You may also want to carry a set of tire chains in your vehicle for heavy snow conditions. Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal and maintain at least a half tank of gas throughout the winter season. Plan long trips carefully. Listen to the local media report or call law enforcement agencies for the latest road conditions.
The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents.
- Keep your vehicles clear of ice and snow before getting behind the wheel. Good vision is a key to good driving.
- Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars. Be extra alert. Remember, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Moreover, always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.