Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Two Severe Weather Systems Approaching New York from the North and South

Governor Cuomo Urges Caution as Winter Storms 
and Frigid Temperatures Threaten Most of State

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that he will activate 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. The coastal system is expected to bring 7 to 12 inches of snow to Long Island over the next 5 days, primarily in Suffolk County. The system will also create blizzard conditions that could lead to blowing snow and whiteouts on roadways. The northern system is expected to bring 8-10 inches of snow in the typical lake effect snow areas of upstate.

"New York is no stranger to severe winter weather and this time we are facing two systems at once," said Governor Cuomo. "We have assets and personnel deployed throughout the state and we are ready to respond when and where it is needed. I ask all New Yorkers to stay informed, stay safe and make sure you 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. 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. A winter storm warning has been issued for Suffolk County from 1 a.m. Thursday through 1 a.m. Friday. Winter storm watches have been issued for New York City and Nassau County from 1 a.m. Thursday to 11 p.m. Thursday.

In the Long Island Region, Suffolk County is expected to see the highest accumulations from the coastal system with anywhere from 7 to 12 inches over the next 5 days with Nassau county as well as New York City forecast to receive from 3 to 6 inches of snow, with a potential for 6 inches or more, late tonight through Thursday. The balance of the State can expect generally from 3 to 8 inches through the weekend.

The typical lake effect snow regions of the Chautauqua Ridge in Western New York and Tug Hill Plateau in the North Country will see the highest amounts of snow accumulations from the northern system (generally 8-10 inches of accumulation over the 5 days).

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

Governor Cuomo will activate 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.

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority has 667 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 246 large snow plows, 113 medium snow plows, 10 tow plows and 52 loaders across the state with more than 101,000 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 here. For real-time updates, motorists can follow @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by clicking here to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.

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.

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  or call 511 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.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

MTA Bridges & Tunnels

The MTA's bridges are equipped with embedded roadway sensors for temperature and above-ground atmospheric sensors that deliver real-time information on wind velocity, wind direction, humidity and precipitation via wireless communication. These sensors record data used to determine if speed restrictions are necessary. Managerial staff will be activated, the Command Center is prepared to operate their weather desks, and all equipment and supplies have been prepared for deployment. Bridges and Tunnels has 8,540 tons of roadway deicer and 106 pieces of snow-fighting equipment in service and available for storm fighting operations, including conveyor trucks, pay loaders, front loaders and plows.

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, January 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 here. Customers can also check the MTA/LIRR website for service advisories here.


Metro-North Railroad will deploy additional staff and specialized equipment to stay ahead of the wintery conditions. The railroad will bring in about 1,500 extra personnel to increase coverage around the system. Maintainers, track workers and power personnel will be on site to deal with such weather related issues as broken rails, catenary problems and switch failures.

To battle the elements, Metro-North has more than 900 pieces of storm-fighting equipment, including: 220 portable snow blowers, 3 rail-bound jet engine powered snow blowers/melters, 6 cold-air (rail) snow blowers/throwers, 2 rail-bound snow broom throwers, 635 track switch heaters/snow melters, 196 portable generators, 35 pickup truck plows, 70 mountable snow plows/salt spreaders and 767,000 pounds of salt.

NYC Subways and Staten Island Railway

MTA New York City Transit's Department of Subways and Staten Island Railway are operating under its Cold Weather Plan for forecasts of significant snow accumulation. Under this plan, some subway trains may be moved and stored underground in anticipation of heavy snow or ice to prevent them from being blocked in yards. On lines with express service, trains may operate local service only during this change. Station crews will be deployed to clear snow and to salt platforms, as well as station entrances, sidewalk vents, emergency exits and other Transit operational and employee facilities.

Mobile wash operations for stations and refuse trains will be suspended during this time. Personnel will activate 500 track switch heaters, more than 1,600 third-rail heaters and lift-rail heaters systemwide. While the underground portions of the subway system are unaffected during snowstorms, nearly 220 miles of outdoor track throughout the boroughs are particularly vulnerable to snow and freezing precipitation, such as the Rockaway AS, Sea Beach N, Flushing 7, Brighton BQ and Dyre Av 5 lines. To combat ice buildup, non-passenger trains will continuously operate in outdoor tracks to help snow and ice accumulation. Trains also will be deployed with ice-scraping shoes, and diesel trains will be activated as de-icers. Personnel will have access to 600,000 pounds of calcium chloride and 200,000 pounds of sand to melt snow and ice.

Staten Island Railway will protect trains from the inclement weather by storing them at St. George. A de-icer train will be staffed for 24 hours, and additional staff will be activated during overnight hours to clear snow and salt platforms. Additional personnel will be deployed to inspect four critical interlockings and dispatchers will operate more than 80 switch heaters to ensure continued service on the railway, which operates on outdoor tracks for most of its route.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

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