Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers across Upstate to prepare for potential flooding, rain, icy conditions, and accumulating snow through the weekend. Temperatures will fall rapidly Friday evening and the rain will change to a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain through Friday night and then transition to an accumulating snow Friday night and Saturday. Snow will begin to taper off on Saturday but will continue into Sunday south of Lake Ontario. The National Weather Service has issued Flood and Winter Weather Watches and Warnings throughout the entire state. Monitor local forecasts for the most up to date information.
“Freezing rain followed by heavy snowfall, will make roadways extremely slippery so I urge travelers to be prepared for more dangerous travel conditions—especially those traveling for the long weekend or heading back to school,” Governor Cuomo said. “I have directed State resources to be ready for the forthcoming conditions and I am advising New Yorkers to limit road travel and to prepare their vehicles and homes.”
Minor ice jam flooding has already been reported throughout the state, especially in the vicinity of rivers and streams. Flooding potential will continue through Saturday near rivers and streams and in low lying or urban areas where there is poor drainage.
Heavy, wet snow is expected to fall at rates of one to two inches per hour, with a possible nine to 15 inches of accumulation in Western New York. Snow will cover most of Upstate, with six to 10 inches of accumulation forecast for Central New York and one to five inches of snow in the Capital Region over the course of the weekend. Temperatures will drop 30 degrees from Friday and winds are expected to be moderate to strong, with gusts to 40 mph at times. Sunday will be partly cloudy and dry though significantly colder as an area of high pressure builds in. Highs in northern New York are expected to remain below 20 degrees, with overnight lows near and below 0 degrees.
State Agency Preparations
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has been in contact with local emergency managers across the state and is monitoring flooding issues on rivers and streams closely. The Division is prepared to respond to requests for assistance with assets from its stockpiles, including 766 generators, 259 light towers, 1,283 pumps, 10 sandbaggers, more than 1,042,451 sandbags, more than 46,700 ready-to-eat meals, almost 70,000 bottles and 348,000 cans of water, over 9,000 cots, approximately 12,000 blankets and pillows, over 4,000 flashlights, 960 traffic barriers, 594 traffic barrels, and over 6,800 feet of aqua dam
The Thruway Authority has 667 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 252 Large Snow Plows, 113 Medium Snow Plows, 11 Tow Plows and 54 Loaders across the state with more than 105,000 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. In addition, Thruway Authority staff has been removing snow from emergency lanes and medians, as well as clearing drainage along its system to alleviate the potential of roadway flooding.
The Thruway Authority encourages motorists to download its mobile app which is available to download for free on and 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 . For real-time updates, motorists can follow on Twitter or by visiting 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 will be aggressively salting prior to the drop in temperatures in an effort to minimize flash freezing. The DOT is also ready to respond with more than 1,548 large plow/dump trucks, 201 medium plow/dump trucks, 328 loaders, 40 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, 50 tow plows, 20 graders and 14 pickup trucks with plows. DOT also has more than 316,000 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.
Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511, or visiting 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.
Plan Ahead When Traveling
Governor Cuomo also offered the following safety tips to prepare for winter travel:
The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents so make sure your vehicle is prepared now to help ensure your vehicle is in good working order when you need it most. Have a mechanic check the following items:
- Wipers and windshield washer fluid
- Ignition system
- Exhaust system
- Flashing hazard lights
- Oil level
- 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.
- 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 condition.
- 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.
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.
Flood Safety Tips
Below are flood preparation safety tips:
- Learn the safest route from your home or business to high, safe ground should you have to leave in a hurry.
- Develop and practice a ‘family escape’ plan and identify a meeting place if family members become separated.
- Make an itemized list, as well as potentially photo and video documentation, of all valuables including furnishings, clothing and other personal property. Keep the list in a safe place.
- Stockpile emergency supplies of canned food, medicine and first aid supplies and drinking water. Store drinking water in clean, closed containers.
- Plan what to do with your pets.
- Have a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries and emergency cooking equipment available.
- Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is cut off, gasoline stations may not be able to pump fuel for several days. Have a small disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car.
- Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels. When predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.
- Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency water-proofing.
- Check on your insurance coverage. Homeowners’ insurance policies generally do not cover flood damages. Only flood insurance can protect your home against flood damages. You can purchase flood insurance whether or not you live in a mapped flood zone.