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Gov. Cuomo Declares State Of Emergency For NY As Storm Advances

Facebook: US National Weather Service Albany NY

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a statewide state of emergency for the duration of the major snow storm expected to hit the Northeast overnight.

Governor Cuomo says snowfall totals are expected to be at least 20 inches and up to 2 feet in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and Capital Region, and 10 to 20 inches for most of the rest of the state - including Western New York where portions of the Rochester area have been without power for the past several days due to a violent wind storm.

He says for all of those reasons, he’s decided to declare a state of emergency for all of New York, and order all non-essential state workers to stay home.

“This would be an historic snowfall for March,” Cuomo said.  

Only state employees in the North Country will still need to report to work, the snowfall is expected to be less severe further north of the storm’s center.

The MTA plans to suspend above ground service in New York City, beginning at 4 a.m. Tuesday, though there are no plans to close the subways at this point. And Cuomo says he’s not ruling out shutting down the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North commuter lines. That decision will be made early Tuesday morning and posted online.

As for the roads - possible whiteout conditions are expected with snow falling at the rate of 2 to 4 inches per hour.

“That is above the rate that snow-clearing machinery is effective,” Cuomo said.

No major state highways will be closed as of now, but Cuomo says that very well could change.

Four thousand Department of Transportation workers will be out to try to keep up with plowing and 2,000 National Guard troops are at the ready, if they are needed. Cuomo says since all regions of the state will be affected, he can’t strategically deploy workers from other parts of the state, and that resources will be “spread thin”.

March blizzards are not unheard of, there were major snowstorms in March of 1888 and 1993, among other years, but’s unusual for so much snow to be predicted so late in the winter season. But Cuomo, in the phone briefing, steered clear of any theories about why the climate might be changing.

“Mother Nature has been acting up recently,” Cuomo said. “I won’t opine as to the cause on this phone call.”

But the governor says extreme weather is the “new normal”.

And he says individuals have to take responsibility as well, by staying home or if you absolutely have to travel, to take an emergency kit with you. 

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.