Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today declared a state of emergency as a major winter storm has moved into the New York City metropolitan area. The State of Emergency covers the following counties: Suffolk, Nassau, Richmond, Kings, Queens, New York, Bronx, Westchester and Rockland.
The Governor also activated the State Emergency Operations Center to monitor the major winter storm that is expected to bring moderate to heavy snow and strong winds to Long Island, New York City and the Lower Hudson Valley, and usher in extremely cold temperatures statewide.
“This winter storm will bring a one-two punch of snow and extreme cold. I urge all those in the affected regions to exercise caution, and avoid travel if possible,” Governor Cuomo said. “State resources are deployed to clear snow and help those impacted by the storm, but above all it is important that New Yorkers remain safe both during and after the storm.”
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Long Island, New York City, and Westchester and Rockland Counties through 6:00 a.m. Wednesday. 8-14 inches of snow is expected, and gusty winds will result in blowing and drifting snow and reduced visibility. A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for Orange and Putnam Counties until 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, where 4-6 inches of snow is forecast.
In addition, the National Weather Service has posted Wind Chill Warnings through noon tomorrow from the southern Adirondacks to the Delaware River Valley. Wind Chill Advisories are in effect for Western and Central New York, the Southern Tier, and the Capital Region. Temperatures near or below zero combined with moderate winds will create dangerous conditions.
Steps taken to ensure readiness include:
Roads and Bridges
The following actions will allow plow operations on critical roadways to be maintained overnight while ensuring driver safety:
The State has activated 239 plows, 27 front loaders and 428 operators in Long Island, which includes 30 plows and 71 operators deployed from upstate. The state also has private contractors standing by on Long Island to assist with snow removal. In the Hudson Valley, the state has activated 227 plows, 53 front loaders and 491 operators deployed for snow removal operations.
Also, the State 107,000 tons of road salt on-hand for the areas in the path of the storm.
All Thruway and New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) maintenance headquarters will be fully staffed around the clock for the duration of the storm.
The MTA urges customers to leave work early today and finish traveling early tonight, especially those who use Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road. The storm has arrived earlier than predicted, bringing higher snow accumulations and stronger wind gusts, raising the prospect of snow drifts of up to two feet. Service on railroads, subways and buses can be curtailed or suspended entirely if snowfall accumulation reaches 10 inches or more. If you do not need to travel tonight, we urge you not to. If you must travel, monitor Service Status at www.mta.info for the most up-to-date information.
Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road are prepared to accommodate customers who leave work early with extra train service, but some trains will be cancelled later in the evening. Some subway lines may suspend express service this evening and run local instead, and service on some outdoor portions of subway lines may need to be curtailed as the storm progresses.
The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) has extended its call center helpline hours beginning today, January 21, 2014 until 7:30 PM, and continuing from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 22, 2014, and Thursday, January 23, 2014 from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., if needed, to assist consumers in storm preparation and response efforts. The helpline number is 1–800–342–3377.
PSC staff will continue to monitor the utilities’ efforts throughout the storm and during the restoration period. The electric utilities are prepared to respond to power disruptions throughout the event. In total, approximately 3,800 field workers are available to respond statewide. Additional crews are also available through mutual assistance, if needed.
All specialty vehicles in the New York State Police’s fleet, including our four wheel drive vehicles, have been prepared for emergency response use. All emergency power and communications equipment has been tested. Extra patrols have been added to assist with any storm related issues. State Police will provide staff to any county emergency operations centers that may be activated to help coordinate responses with local agencies.
Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:
Never follow a snowplow too closely or attempt to pass one. Remember that the highway ahead of the plow is usually snow-covered;
· Adjust speed for road conditions and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles;
· Schedule extra time for winter travel and be patient during ice and snow removal operations;
· Assume that bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces;
· Be wary of black ice, which can be difficult to see but makes conditions slippery when pavement temperatures are below freezing;
· Have a cell phone handy, if possible, but do not text while driving; distracted driving is illegal and becomes even more dangerous during storm events;
· Never venture from your vehicle if snowbound;
· Equip your car with emergency supplies including sand, shovel, flares, booster cables, rope, ice scraper, portable radio, flashlight, blankets and extra warm clothes;
· Inform a responsible person of your destination, intended route, and estimated time of arrival; and
· Keep calm and do not panic in case of a vehicle breakdown, accident, or if you become snowbound.
NYSDOT provides a travel advisory system that features real-time travel reports and can be accessed by phone at 511 or online here. The Web site features a color-coded map indicating which state roads are snow covered, ice covered, wet, dry, or closed to help travelers determine if travel is advisable. The system provides real-time snow and ice conditions for interstates and other heavily traveled roads, as reported by snowplow operators.