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Monday, December 28, 2015
With the first appearance of snow this winter, officials are advising caution on the roadways. (SCOTT LEFFLER / ENP STAFF)


New Yorkers are being advised to prepare now for dangerous weather conditions are moving into the area tonight into Tuesday, making for dangerous driving conditions, especially during the Tuesday morning commute when snow transitions to sleet and freezing rain in many areas of the state.

The National Weather Service has issued Winter Weather Advisories for all of New York as a surge of moisture expands northeast across the state from late this afternoon into Tuesday as a mixture of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain. Additionally, High Wind Warnings have been issued in southern Erie County and Chautauqua County. Snow will continue to arrive tonight into Tuesday. Isolated to scattered power outages will be possible where the greatest ice accumulations occur.

The New York State Department of Transportation has more than 430,000 tons of road salt on hand and more than 3,300 operators and supervisors statewide ready to respond with 1,277 large plow/dump trucks, 176 medium plow/dump trucks, 16 pickup trucks with plows, 306 loaders, 41 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, 37 tow plows and additional resources as necessary. Additionally, variable message signs will display critical weather warnings. In the event of damage caused by wind and ice, NYSDOT has 10 bucket trucks and 82 chippers standing by.

Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511, or by accessing before traveling. This free service allows users to check road conditions and transit information. Mobile users can download the updated, free 511NY mobile app from the iTunes or Google Play stores. The app now 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.

The New York State Thruway Authority has 518 operators ready to deploy 201 Large Snow Plows, 142 Medium Snow Plows and 54 Loaders statewide. The Thruway Authority has more than 140,000 tons of road salt on hand throughout the system.

Due to the High Wind Warnings issued by the National Weather Service for Chautauqua and Southern Erie counties, high profile vehicles including empty trailers should take caution when traveling on I-90 between exits 55 (Lackawanna) and 61 (Ripley – Shortman Road).

Motorists are encouraged to sign up for TRANSalert e-mails, which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway. Motorists can sign up for TRANSalerts here. Thruway travelers can also get real-time updates by following @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.

All New Yorkers can obtain emergency information through NY-ALERT, the State’s free, all-hazards, web-based alert and notification system. To subscribe, visit If you do not own or have access to a computer, call toll-free 1-888-697-6972 or download the app on your smartphone at

Safe Travel

It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, 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 winter driving include:

  • When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Winterize Your Vehicle

Preparing your vehicle for the winter season 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:

  • Battery
  • Wipers and windshield washer fluid
  • Antifreeze
  • Ignition system
  • Thermostat
  • Lights
  • Exhaust system
  • Flashing hazard lights
  • Heater
  • Brakes
  • Defroster
  • Oil level

Trapped in a Car

If you happen to get trapped in your vehicle during a blizzard, the following is suggested:

  • Stay in your car and wait for help to find you.
  • Run your engine for short periods of time to stay warm. Keep your down-wind window open and make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow.
  • Turn on the dome light at night when you are running the engine to signal rescuers.
  • Hang a brightly colored piece of cloth or piece of clothing from your car.
  • Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.

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