Governor Cuomo Warns of Continuous Snowfall Over Several Days across Upstate and Announces State Assets Ready to Deploy to Affected Regions

Total Snow Accumulations of Up to 20 Inches Possible in Western New York and the North Country

Heavy Snow Bands and Blowing Snow Could Cause Hazardous Travel Conditions

State Stands Ready to Deploy Additional Assets to Affected Regions as Needed, Including Equipment and New York National Guard Personnel

Governor Cuomo today warned New Yorkers to take precautions ahead of several days of continuous snowfall expected upstate, and delivered an update on the state’s preparations for the winter weather system. Throughout the next 24 hours, the majority of upstate will experience strong winds and anywhere between two and seven inches of snow, with the possibility of up to 20 inches of snow in portions of Western New York and the North Country due to the lake effect. Due to these conditions, New Yorkers should travel with caution over the next 24 hours as driving conditions may grow difficult due to snow covered roads, blowing snow and limited visibility. The State stands ready to deploy assets to affected regions of the state as needed, including equipment and New York National Guard personnel. Nearly 550 State Troopers and 90 supervisors are currently deployed in the affected areas.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

“New Yorkers are no strangers to winter weather and we are looking at several days of significant and steady snowfall that will create challenging conditions across upstate,” Governor Cuomo said. “I strongly urge motorists to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary and local governments to tell us as soon as possible if they need assistance. We have equipment and personnel including State Police and the National Guard on standby and ready to be deployed as necessary.”

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warnings for Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Cayuga, Clinton, Erie, Franklin, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego, St. Lawrence, Wayne, and Wyoming Counties. Heavy lake effect snow is possible with total snow accumulations of six to 12 inches possible, with the potential for 20 inches of snow possible in the Chautauqua Ridge and North Country. Winds could gust as high as 50 mph at times, causing blowing snow and significantly reduced visibility.

Oshkosh blower vehicles which have cleared roads in the Buffalo area – file photo

Outside of the areas that are traditionally impacted by lake effect snow, accumulation totals are expected to be moderate, ranging between three to seven inches. Totals will increase as the elevation increases.

For a complete listing of weather watches and warnings in your area, visit your area’s National Weather Service website.

Safe travel

Some of the most important tips for safe driving include:

  • When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
  • Use caution on bridges as ice can form quicker than on roads.
  • Wet leaves on roadways can cause slippery conditions, making it is important to drive at slower speeds when approaching patches of them.
  • 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.
  • If you have a cell phone or other communications device such as a 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.

The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, make sure that your vehicle is clear of ice and snow; good vision is key to good driving.  Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars. Be extra alert and remember that snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 m.p.h., 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.

Agency Preparations

The State Department of Transportation is ready to respond with 1,598 large plow trucks, 52 tow plows, 322 large loaders, 40 snowblowers, 20 graders, 199 medium duty and pickup trucks with plows, and 33 tractor trailers, and nearly 430,000 tons of salt on hand. This equipment, as well as more than 3,850 operators and supervisors, are deployed across the state as necessary in advance of winter storms to help keep roads safe.

Motorists are reminded to check 511NY before traveling at or by downloading the mobile app. The free service allows users to check road conditions and features a winter travel advisory system with real-time travel reports and a color-coded map indicating which state roads are clear, wet or snow covered. The system provides motorists with a helpful resource to determine if travel is advisable.

The Thruway Authority has 663 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 239 Large Snow Plows, 128 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 58 Loaders across the state with more than 118,000 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.