A major storm added a snow day to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, closing schools and state and local government offices from Albany to the Hudson Valley and beyond. And now New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for several counties.
Governor Cuomo held a storm briefing at a state Thruway exit in Kingston.
“We’re going to declare a state of emergency in seven counties that have been the hardest hit: Ulster County; Schenectady County; Saratoga; Rensselaer County; Greene County; Columbia, and Albany County. A declaration of a state of emergency allows more flexibility for the state government working with the local governments to make sure we can deploy resources where we need to deploy resources,” Cuomo says. “We’re also going to call out 300 National Guardsmen… Guardspeople, who are just indispensable in these situations.”
He says there is a 35 mile-per-hour speed limit on Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge and a 45 mile-per-hour speed limit on portions of the New York State Thruway and other major state highways.
“And the Capital District region, upper Mid-Hudson got hardest hit in this storm, so far,” says Cuomo.
Already, areas throughout the Capital Region have seen more than a foot of snow, and another eight inches could be on the way. Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan checked in from the road en route to meet Cuomo, saying all of the county’s non-emergency offices are closed.
“So far, everything is looking pretty good. We… late last night, early this morning, I declared a weather emergency, really to ensure the safety of our workforce but also all the residents of the county to really try to keep people off the roads so we can get them cleared and safe as quickly as possible. And we’ve been partnering with state assets," Ryan says. “Of course, our county workforce is out there. We’ve got 46 plows, over 20 pickup trucks, dozens of our workforce out there clearing roads, and then the towns and village as well. So, the team’s working together. I think we’re in pretty good shape and, fortunately, no major incidents at this point.”
Ulster County Area Transit is suspended on all routes. Service will resume as conditions permit. Ryan says the snowfall is varied across the county, with the Catskills seeing higher amounts. Ryan said the snow was falling heavily in New Paltz and Kingston as of mid-morning. Dutchess County government offices also are closed today save for emergency personnel. County Executive Marc Molinaro says this doesn’t happen too often. As for Tuesday, it’s wait and see.
“I will say that in eight years, we’ve closed county offices twice — today and two years ago. So we have sort of a wait-and-see attitude. Government needs to function for people during some difficult situations and conditions. So for our perspective, we’ll monitor it this evening,” says Molinaro. “Two things residents should be aware of today as far as government operations. One, be prepared for changes to the bus schedule and the transit schedule this evening. And then also be prepared for a potential delayed start to county offices on Tuesday morning.”
Molinaro held a conference call this morning with the county’s town supervisors and mayors to review the forecast, road status, any issues in a certain municipality, and more.
“We remind them, by the way, about our need to respond to those who are homeless and the sheltering options that are available, along with emergency fuel assistance,” says Molinaro.
As of mid-morning:
“Most of Dutchess County has experienced anywhere between four and eight inches of snow accumulation so far, with significantly more ice, slush, freezing rain than was originally forecasted for much of the county,” Molinaro says.
But he is concerned about the forecast of more intense snowfall later today.
The National Weather Service in Albany reported that 14.5 inches of snow had fallen at Albany International Airport through 7 a.m, making it one of the top 10 snowstorms for December at Albany. With snowfall expected to continue, the storm could push Albany into the top five. The city of Albany declared a snow emergency beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
In response to the National Weather Service's forecast for heavy snow in the area lasting until Tuesday, Town of Colonie officials are asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel and to park their vehicles in their driveways or to seek alternative off-street parking to keep the streets clear for snow plows and emergency vehicles.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day also is urging residents to stay off the roads. He says county government offices are open but all Health Department clinics are closed. Transport of Rockland buses are operating regular weekday service for now. Westchester County Executive George Latimer was scheduled to give a weather briefing at 1.