Extremely Cold Weather, NYC Transportation

Cold Temperature and Wind Chill to Create Potentially Dangerous Outdoor Conditions for Upstate New York in Coming Days

Snowy Squalls and Icy Conditions to Create Difficult Driving Conditions for Upstate Commutes and Holiday Travel

State Agencies Preparing Roadways and Mass Transit for High Volume of Travelers    

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to prepare for potentially dangerous outdoor conditions as a strong arctic cold front is forecasted to impact the state beginning Wednesday afternoon and lasting through the weekend. The front is expected to bring snow squalls and a wind chill that will push temperatures below zero degrees for most of Upstate New York. As many Thanksgiving traditions include outdoor activities such as parades, Turkey Trots and football games, Governor Cuomo is urging New Yorkers to practices safe behaviors and limit their exposure to extreme cold.

“As New Yorkers gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, Mother Nature will be sending extremely cold temperatures to join us this year as well,” Governor Cuomo said. “While we are watching this impending cold front very closely and making the necessary preparations, I ask that New Yorkers also do their part and make sure they take the proper precautions if they plan on venturing outside at all in the coming days.” 

The strong arctic cold front is expected to move into New York Wednesday afternoon bringing very cold temperatures and snow squalls into Upstate that may impact the evening commute. While snow squalls typically produce low snow accumulations, they can lead to brief reductions in visibilities and when paired with rapidly falling temperatures, can produce icy and treacherous road conditions. Drivers should be mindful of these conditions and use caution while on the roads, especially given the fact that more people are expected to be traveling this Thanksgiving than at any time in the last several years.

Later in the evening, even colder temperatures are expected to arrive and last through Thanksgiving night. Winds with gusts up to 40MPH in some areas and below freezing temperatures could lead to dangerous wind chill values of zero degrees to 10 degrees below zero in many areas. Temperatures on Thanksgiving are expected to remain very cold, only rising into the teens and low 20s with winds remaining breezy. In the New York City and Long Island Regions, temperatures are expected to be warmer in the coming days, mainly in the 30s, and wind chills should be less of a factor.

For a complete listing of weather watches, warnings, advisories and latest forecasts, visit the National Weather Service website.

Safety in Extreme Cold

Dress for the Season

  • Wear loose, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air between the layers acts as an insulator. Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded.
  • Always wear a hat or cap on your head since half of your body heat could be lost through an uncovered head.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
  • Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves because fingers maintain more warmth when they touch each other.

Physical Exertion

Winter storm conditions and cold waves are the deadliest types of weather as cold temperatures put an extra strain on your heart. Heavy exertion, such as shoveling snow, clearing debris or pushing a car can increase the risk of a heart attack.

To avoid problems, remember these tips:

  • Stay warm, dress warm and SLOW DOWN when working outdoors.
  • Take frequent rests to avoid over exertion.
  • If you feel chest pain — STOP and seek help immediately.


Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause hypothermia, especially in children and the elderly.

Watch for these symptoms:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Uncontrollable shivering, followed by a sudden lack of shivering

If a person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, get emergency medical assistance immediately. Remove wet clothing, wrap the victim in warm blankets and give warm, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids until help arrives.


People working or playing outdoors during the winter can develop frostbite and not even know it. There is no pain associated with the early stages of frostbite, so learn to watch for these danger signs:

  • First, the skin may feel numb and become flushed. Then it turns white or grayish-yellow. Frostbitten skin feels cold to the touch.
  • If frostbite is suspected, move the victim to a warm area. Cover the affected area with something warm and dry. Never rub it!
  • Then get to a doctor or hospital as quickly as possible.

Agency Preparations

Ahead of the cold front, Thanksgiving festivities and the high volume of travelers expected to be on the roads this year, Governor Cuomo has directed state agencies to make the following preparations:


New York City Transit – Subways, Buses & Staten Island Railway

New York City Transit and its subway, bus, paratransit and Staten Island Railway divisions are monitoring weather forecasts and conditions closely and will supplement preliminary preparations with further measures if deemed necessary.

The Department of Subways and Staten Island Railway are monitoring the forecast and prepared to activate substantial winter weather measures if the forecast calls for them.  Such measures, under conditions of precipitation or extreme cold, could include salting and sanding platforms and other station areas, prepositioning snow-fighting equipment and personnel, activating heaters to keep track elements from freezing, and other winter weather safety measures.

The Department of Buses is keeping trucks on standby to plow and salt, ready to be activated to supplement local City plowing and salting operations.  The trucks will be on a staggered schedule to ensure even coverage and will be available overnight if conditions warrant.  All evening buses will have all-weather tires, and if conditions warrant, articulated (accordion-style) buses will be replaced with regular buses.

Paratransit personnel are monitoring the weather via the Paratransit Command Center and additional Paratransit Call Center staff has been scheduled to assist customers.  Additional “floaters” – extra vehicles on-call to account for traffic congestion and delays – have also been scheduled.

Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad

On Wednesday, to minimize potential impacts of this cold weather event, Metro-North and the LIRR are ensuring sufficient staffing levels to be able to address any broken rails or switch failures that may be induced by the forecasted drop in temperature.

As per normal protocols, the railroads will pre-position locomotives at strategic locations to assist in case any trains become disabled. All Metro-North trains have been prepared with third rail show shoes and coupler snow bags.

The railroads are monitoring operation and working to provide safe and reliable service for customers.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels

MTA Bridges and Tunnels is closely monitoring the conditions and personnel are ready and prepared to respond to all weather-related incidents. Electronic weather sensors on the Bridges are functional, and all facilities have the ability to monitor weather and roadway conditions.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The Port Authority is ready for any potential weather issues with extensive preparations for personnel and equipment at all of its facilities. The agency activates its main agency-wide Emergency Operations Center in Jersey City as necessary to monitor storm conditions. Facility specific Emergency Operations Centers also will be activated at John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia airports as poor weather conditions warrant. The Port Authority also is in contact with the states of New York and New Jersey, as well as other local and federal officials and agencies to coordinate responses to adverse weather conditions.

During inclement weather, the Port Authority advises travelers to check with their bus lines before going to the Port Authority Bus Terminal or airline carriers to make sure their flight will be taking off before going to the airport. If warranted, the Port Authority also is prepared to partner with airlines and terminal operators to accommodate ticketed passengers who may become stranded at the airports.  Each airport is stocked with critical supplies such as cots, blankets, diapers and baby formula to provide stranded customers. 

The Port Authority has the following winter weather equipment and supplies ready at its major transportation facilities:

  • More than 500 pieces of snow equipment at its airports, includingmelters that can liquefy up to 500 tons of snow an hour and plows that can clear snow at 40 mph;
  • Nearly 100 pieces of snow equipment at its bridges and tunnels;
  • Thousands of tons of salt and sand for airport roads and parking lots, plus thousands of tons of salt and sand for the bridges and tunnels;
  • Hundreds of thousands of gallons of liquid anti-ice chemicals at the airports, which prevent snow and ice from bonding to runways and taxiways, plus thousands of tons of solid de-icers, which break up snow and ice already on the ground;
  • Plow equipped trains, liquid snow-melting agent trains and a “jet engine” plow to remove snow from PATH tracks, and snow blowers, plows and spreaders to clear station entrances, roads that serve PATH’s 13 stations, and various support facilities.
  • Generators and pumps have been checked to assure all are operational if needed.

Department of Transportation

The State Department of Transportation responds to storms with nearly 1,600 large dump trucks, over 175 medium duty plows and hundreds of other pieces of equipment, including snow blowers, smaller plow trucks, loaders and graders. This equipment, as well as more than 3,500 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 www.511NY.org 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.

Thruway Authority 

The Thruway Authority has 632 supervisors and operators ready to deploy 238 Large Snow Plows, 123 Medium Snow Plows, 10 Tow Plows and 53 Loaders across the state with more than 114,000 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

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 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, a set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods and brightly colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
  • Do not attempt to drive over flooded roads; turn around and go another way. Water moving at two mph can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
  • Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges and low areas.
  • If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.

Additionally, the leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents. Before getting behind the wheel, ensure 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, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Moreover, always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

It’s 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. 


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