NYS outlines response preparations to winter storm expected on Wednesday

A major winter storm is on the way.

Governor Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers to prepare for hazardous winter weather and to use caution traveling on Wednesday, especially during the morning and evening commutes.

“New Yorkers across the state should be prepared in advance for heavy snow that is currently forecast to hit parts of upstate the hardest,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are taking action, readying equipment and will be deploying resources in advance of the storm to ensure we are keeping roads open and our citizens safe. I ask all New Yorkers to stay informed, monitor your local weather forecast and if you must be on the road, give yourself extra time.”

At the Governor’s direction, the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, State Police, the Department of Transportation and the Thruway Authority have already begun to plan accordingly for weather conditions.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The State’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has been in contact with local emergency management offices in every region and will closely monitor the storm as it moves through the state. The State’s Emergency Operations Center will activate tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. with Office of Emergency Management Staff in an enhanced monitoring posture. The Division’s 10 regional stockpiles have been prepared and are ready to respond to requests for assistance with assets including over 700 generators, over 250 light towers, over 1,200 pumps, approximately 46,000 ready-to-eat meals, approximately 409,000 bottles and cans of water, over 9,600 cots, 12,420 blankets, 13,613 pillows, and over 4,000 flashlights.

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.

Department of Transportation

The New York State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 1,569 large plow/dump trucks, 190 medium plow/dump trucks, 326 loaders, 37 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, 52 tow plows, 17 graders and 14 pickup trucks with plows. The Department of Transportation also has more than 383,995 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.

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 672 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 248 Large Snow Plows, 113 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 53 Loaders across the state with more than 111,000 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 encourages motorists to download its mobile app which is available to download 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 by following this link: www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml. For real-time updates, motorists can follow @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.

State Police

The New York State Police will add additional patrols during the storm to the affected areas as needed. All 4X4 vehicles are available for deployment, and all troop emergency power and communications equipment has been tested

Safety Precautions

All residents should have the following items available:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered portable radio or NOAA Weather Radio to receive emergency information. The radio will allow you to listen to weather forecasts, information, and other emergency broadcasts by local authorities
  • Seven to ten days’ supply of food. High-energy food, such as dried fruit or candy, and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration is best. Also stock an emergency supply of bottled water. The recommended amount is one gallon per person per day for 7 to 10 days
  • A one-week supply of essential medicines and baby items if needed
  • First aid kit and supplies
  • Extra blankets and sleeping bags
  • Fire extinguisher and smoke detector – test regularly to ensure they are working properly

Safety on the Road

Motorists are reminded that snowplows travel at about 35 miles per hour — which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit — in order to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. The safest place for motorists is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted. 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 are urged to take extra precautions to account for the reduced speed and mobility of snowplows.

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.

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.

Other important tips for safe winter driving include:

  • 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.

Drive Safely

The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel this winter season, every driver must keep their vehicles clear of ice and snow. 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.
  • Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

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