Friday, January 28, 2022

Governor Hochul Declares State of Emergency Effective at 8 P.M. as Winter Storm Expected to Bring Heavy Snow and Strong Winds to Downstate Regions this Weekend

 A highway digital message board alerts drivers of an impending winter storm on Long Island.

State of Emergency Declared for Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester Counties

Heavy Snow Now Expected Friday Evening Through Saturday for Long Island, New York City and Mid-Hudson Regions With Accumulations of 5 to 10 Inches Expected in NYC and 10 to 16 Inches Possible on Long Island 

Governor Hochul Cautions New Yorkers to Stay Off the Roads This Weekend to Allow Emergency Response Crews to Work Safely

Long Island Rail Road to Suspend Service on All Branches; Blizzard Warning in Effect for Suffolk County 

Speed Reductions and Truck Restrictions in Place Starting Friday Night for Long Island Expressway and Parkways As Sustained Winds Could Top 55 MPH

 Governor Kathy Hochul today declared a State of Emergency effective at 8 p.m. due to heavy snowfall expected downstate as a coastal storm system will arrive Friday evening bringing more than a foot of snow and gusty winds to parts of Long Island and up to 10 inches of snow in New York City and the lower Hudson Valley. Winds gusting up to 55 mph at times will likely impact travel in several locations and could potentially cause power outages. Governor Hochul is advising New Yorkers in these locations to stay off the roads this weekend to avoid any dangerous travel conditions and allow emergency response crews to complete their missions.

"Out of an abundance of caution I am declaring a State of Emergency today as this storm is poised to create dangerous travel conditions, heavy snowfall rates and sustained winds over 50 mph tonight into Saturday," Governor Hochul said. "My team and I are laser focused on the forecast and we've been deploying emergency response assets ahead of the storm to assist with response efforts in the downstate areas. Get home safely tonight, remain home over the weekend, avoid any unnecessary travel, and our crews will safely clear the road."

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "We believe this storm will bring significant snowfall to Long Island and has a real chance at impacting New York City, with snowfall rates of more than one inch per hour. The State's Emergency Operations Center is open and closely tracking the storm, but we need New Yorkers to get home early tonight and expect heavy snow this weekend. Avoiding travel, especially on Saturday, will be critical in allowing emergency response crews from state and local agencies to do their jobs in the hardest hit areas."

A Blizzard Warning is in effect for Suffolk County and a Winter Storm Warning is currently in effect for Nassau County, New York City, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester areas. National Weather Service meteorologists advise there is still some uncertainty regarding the exact track of the storm and that snowfall totals may shift in future forecasts. For a complete listing of weather advisories in your area, visit the National Weather Service website.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The MTA is closely monitoring weather conditions to ensure safe, reliable service. MTA employees will be poised to spread salt, clear platforms and stairs where ice exists, and keep signals, switches, and third rail operating, remove any downed trees that may fall across tracks, and attend to any weather-related challenges during the storm. 

Tomorrow, New York City Subways and Buses and the Metro-North Railroad expect to run on their normal weekend schedules. Articulated buses throughout New York City will be taken out of service on Saturday and replaced by 40-foot standard buses. All of those standard buses will be fitted with chains. MTA Bridges and Tunnels is advising motorists to use caution when driving on icy roadways and drive at reduced speeds.

The MTA continues to closely monitor the potential impact on the Long Island Rail Road.

Customers are encouraged to check for the latest service updates, and to use caution while navigating the system. Customers should also sign up for real-time service alerts via text or email. These alerts are also available via the MTA's apps: MYmta, Long Island Rail Road Train Time and Metro-North Train Time.

Safety Tips

Winter Travel

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 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.

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 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.

Power Outage

If experiencing a power outage, New Yorkers should:

  • Turn off or disconnect major appliances and other equipment, e.g., computers, in case of a momentary power surge that can damage these devices. Keep one light turned on so you know when power returns. Consider using surge protectors wherever you use electronic equipment.
  • Call your utility provider to notify them of the outage and listen to local broadcasts for official information. For a list of utilities, visit the State Department of Public Service.  
  • Check to see if your neighbors have power. Check on people with access or functional needs.
  • Use only flashlights for emergency lighting - candles pose the risk of fire.
  • Keep refrigerators and freezer doors closed - most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately four (4) hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.
  • Do not use a charcoal grill indoors and do not use a gas stove for heat - they could give off harmful levels of carbon monoxide. 
  • In cold weather, stay warm by dressing in layers and minimizing time spent outdoors. Be aware of cold stress symptoms (i.e., hypothermia) and seek proper medical attention if symptoms appear. 
  • If you are in a tall building, take the stairs and move to the lowest level of the building. If trapped in an elevator, wait for assistance. Do not attempt to force the doors open. Remain patient - there is plenty of air and the interior of the elevator is designed for passenger safety.
  • Remember to provide fresh, cool water for your pets.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion and dangerous driving conditions. If you must drive during a blackout, remember to obey the 4-way stop rule at intersections with non-functioning traffic signals.
  • Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not be working.

For more safety tips, visit the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Safety Tips web page.

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