Possible storm puts Hudson Valley on alert

NYS DOT using one of its tow plows. Provided by NYS DOT

ALBANY – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to prepare for slippery conditions upstate and coastal flooding along coastal areas starting tonight and continuing through Monday as a storm system moves through the state. For upstate areas, the system is expected to bring freezing rain mixed with sleet and a light glaze of ice. Drivers should expect slippery conditions on roadways and bridges starting late Sunday night and continuing through Monday morning, and all New Yorkers are urged to practice safe behavior on the roads. For downstate areas, coastal flooding is expected to occur during high tide cycles today and tomorrow.

“The storm is moving up the East Coast and is likely to bring icy conditions to upstate New York and high winds and potential flooding to downstate areas,” Governor Cuomo said. “State agencies are watching the conditions and stand ready to assist, and I urge drivers to be prepared and using caution out on the roads.”

A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued by the National Weather Service from late this evening to noon on Monday due to freezing rain, possibly mixed with sleet at times, and a light glaze of ice, with ice accumulations of less than one-tenth of an inch expected.  The Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for 18 counties in the Mohawk Valley, Capital Region, Hudson Valley and Southern Tier.  Hazardous conditions, including extremely slippery sidewalks, roads, and bridges, will likely impact the morning commute on Monday.  Counties include Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Fulton, Greene, Herkimer, Montgomery, Orange, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, Warren and Washington counties.

Coastal Flood Watches and Advisories are also in effect for the NYC and Long Island regions, as well as Westchester County, starting early this afternoon into this evening.  Up to one foot of inundation above ground level is possible in low lying areas near shorelines and tidal waterways with the high tide cycle today, and 2 to 3 feet of inundation is likely with the high tide cycle during the day on Monday.  The combination of elevated water levels and high surf along the ocean beachfront should also result in significant beach erosion and localized splashovers around the times of high tide.

The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 3,450 supervisors and operators available. Regional crews are currently engaged in snow and ice preparations and rain and flood event monitoring. All residency locations in storm impacted areas will be staffed for 24/7 operation throughout the duration of the event.  All available snow and ice 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 available equipment in the form of 1,559 large plow trucks, 182 medium-duty plows, 325 large loaders, 39 snowblowers, and 19 pickup trucks with plows are ready to deploy if needed.

The Thruway Authority has 668 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 208 Large Snow Plows, 107 Medium Snow Plows, 7 Tow Plows, snow, weather advisory and 63 Loaders across the state with more than 120,000 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 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.

All Troopers will closely monitor conditions for any problems.  State Police are ready to deploy additional personnel to 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.

DEC Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and actively patrolling areas likely to be impacted by the storm. All available assets, including utility vehicles, are ready to assist with any emergency response.

New York State Park Police and park personnel are on alert and closely monitoring weather conditions and impacts. Response equipment is being fueled, tested and prepared for storm response use. Park visitors should check parks.ny.gov or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.

Governor Cuomo’s office has sent out a list of tips for New Yorkers as the winter weather season approaches.

  • When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
  • Use caution on bridges as ice can form quicker than on roads.
  • Ice glaze and wet leaves on roadways can cause slippery conditions – it is very 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.

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