Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today declared a state of emergency across Long Island, New York City and Westchester. Additionally, a travel advisory has been issued from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, with the worst weather expected from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sustained winds of 25-30 mph are expected with gusts of up to 60 mph across the downstate region.
The coastal system is expected to bring 4 to 8 inches to Nassau County; 9 to 12 inches to Suffolk County; 6 to 10 inches of snow to New York City; and 4 to 8 inches to Westchester County. The system will also create blizzard conditions that could lead to blowing snow and whiteouts on roadways, with coastal flooding possible and overnight drops in temperatures causing hazardous black ice.
Yesterday, the governor activated the State Emergency Operations Center at a Level 4 enhanced monitoring to track potentially dangerous winter storm conditions from two different low-pressure systems—one approaching from the north and the other affecting coastal areas—as well as frigid temperatures that will overspread the state through this weekend.
“In the face of blizzard conditions and freezing temperatures, I am declaring a state of emergency across New York City, Long Island and Westchester to urge New Yorkers to stay home, stay off the roads and stay safe,” said Governor Cuomo. “We will continue to monitor the storm and have deployed hundreds of assets and personnel across the state and on Long Island, ready to respond and assist impacted communities. I ask all New Yorkers to stay informed, and continue to prepare for cold and snow.”
Dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills will continue through the weekend and wind chill watches will remain in effect for all of Upstate New York. The northern system is also expected to bring 8-10 inches of snow in the typical lake effect snow areas of upstate. Low pressure systems to the north and moving up the Atlantic coast will bring snow across all of New York State today through the weekend. Into this weekend, the arctic temperatures are expected to continue with the majority of the state seeing temperatures only reaching highs in the single digits and wind chills as low as 40 below.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
Governor Cuomo has activated the New York State Emergency Operations Center Thursday morning to a Level 4 enhanced monitoring mode with State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services – Office of Emergency Management staff.
State OEM is prepared to respond to requests for assistance with assets from its stockpiles, including 678 generators, 235 light towers, 909 pumps, 9 sandbaggers, more than 930,000 sandbags, more than 46,700 ready-to-eat meals, almost 70,000 bottles and 312,000 cans of water, almost 9,000 cots, more than 11,000 blankets and pillows, nearly 4,000 flashlights, 960 traffic barriers, 594 traffic barrels and 6,800 feet of aqua dam.
Department of Transportation
The New York State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with more than 1,555 large plow/dump trucks, 205 medium plow/dump trucks, 325 loaders, 39 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, 52 tow plows, 20 graders and 14 pickup trucks with plows. DOT also has nearly 366,000 tons of road salt on hand. DOT continues to monitor weather forecasts and stands ready to shift resources as necessary to any areas of the state anticipating significant weather conditions.
Governor Cuomo recently announced the State Department of Transportation’s acquisition of 44 Two-Stage Plows that clear snow and ice from the roads more efficiently. A second plow located directly behind the main plow blade will conform to the road surface, removing more snow to better clean the road surface and allow for reduced salt usage. The new plows will be located strategically across the State and will be used at targeted locations where less salt use is preferred due to environmental factors.
Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511, or visiting www.511ny.org before traveling. The free service allows users to check road conditions and transit information. Mobile users can download the free 511NY mobile app from the iTunes or Google Play stores. The app 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.
Long Island Rail Road
The LIRR anticipates running normal service, as conditions warrant. As safety is a top priority of the LIRR, staff will monitor the storm as it progresses and make any adjustments necessary.
The LIRR will be taking preventative measures to deal with snow accumulation, including the activation of equipment heaters and deployment of de-icing equipment. Switch heaters will be used to keep rail switches moving freely so trains can be routed from one track to another. Anti-freeze trains also will operate as needed to help prevent icing on the third rail and ensure that electric trains can draw power properly. Station waiting rooms have remained open to the public around the clock due to the cold and will remain available to the riding public until Monday, Jan. 8, when regular station waiting room hours will resume.
The LIRR has at the ready several different types of equipment during storms to ensure safe travel and operations, including 1 million pounds of de-icer, 25 cubic yards of sand, three cold-air snow blowers/throwers, four de-icer trains, nine rail-bound jet blowers/snow melters, 12,000 third-rail heaters/melters, 108 track switch heaters/snow melters, two rail-bound snow blowers/broom throwers, one rail-bound spreader and seven mountable snow plows/salt spreaders. The LIRR also has two excavators, two forklifts, 31 loaders, 42 barricades and 29 work vehicles/trucks to assist in weather-related conditions.
Customers are advised to allow extra time to get to the station and use caution when navigating stairways and platforms and when boarding and exiting trains in case of slippery conditions. Customers can sign up for the LIRR’s Customer E-Alert/Text Message service for updates about service changes related to the storm at: http://mymtaalerts.com/LoginC.aspx. Customers can also check the MTA/LIRR website for service advisories at www.mta.info/lirr.
More information on how NYC Subways prepares for wintry weather can be found in this video on MTA’s YouTube channel.
LaGuardia and Newark Liberty remain open as of this morning—with heavy delays and numerous cancellations. JFK has closed due to blowing snow. All airports are subject to closings due to extreme weather. Travelers are urged to contact their carrier to determine flight status before arriving at the airport.
- 95 percent flights at LaGuardia have been cancelled
- JFK closed
- 73 percent of flights at Newark have been cancelled
Additionally, speed restrictions are in place on Port Authority bridges due to high winds and low visibility.
- 25 mph at the Staten Island Bridges (Outerbridge, Goethals and Bayonne)
- 35 mph at the GWB (The sidewalk at the GWB is closed)
The Port Authority advises travelers to check with their carriers to make sure their flight will be taking off before going to the airport. If warranted, the Port Authority also is prepared to accommodate ticketed passengers who may become stranded at the airports. The Port Authority also 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.
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.
State Police and National Guard
The New York State Police is fully staffed for the storm, and will be closely monitoring road conditions in order to move patrols to affected areas as necessary. All 4X4 vehicles, snowmobiles, and other equipment have been tested and are ready for deployment. The New York National Guard is ready to assist communities across the state in advance of winter weather and is prepared to stand up Immediate Response Forces at Farmingdale Armed Forces Reserve Center, Camp Smith Training Site, Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach and Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY. In total, 180 personnel and 34 humvees and 6 trucks will be available for deployment downstate.
Governor Cuomo also offered the following safety tips to prepare for winter travel:
Travel with Care
Preparing your vehicle 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.
- Finally, 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.
- Give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination. Make sure your car is stocked with emergency items 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
As you drive:
- Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.
- Keep your vehicle clear of ice and snow—good vision is key to good driving.
- Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars.
- Remember that snowdrifts can hide smaller children.
If you lose power:
- Call your utility first 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 power has been restored.
- To help prevent freezing pipes, turn on faucets slightly. Running water will not freeze as quickly.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to help reduce food spoilage
- Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Do not operate generators indoors; the motor emits deadly carbon monoxide gas.
- Do not use charcoal to cook indoors. It, too, can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide gas.
- Do not use your gas oven to heat your home—prolonged use of an open oven in a closed house can create carbon monoxide gas.
- Make sure fuel space heaters are used with proper ventilation.
- 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 of the small, home-use portable generators produce from 350 to 12,000 watts of power. Overloading your generator can damage it, the appliances connected to it, and may cause a fire. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Keep children away from generators at all times.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
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.
- Always keep a screen around an open flame.
- Never use gasoline to start your fireplace.
- Never burn charcoal indoors.
- Do not close the damper when ashes are hot.
- 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 your chimney checked before the season for creosote buildup—and then clean it.
- Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors, and make sure they work
- Establish a well-planned escape route with the entire family.
- 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.