Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today declared a state of emergency across all 62 counties in New York ahead of the extreme winter storm expected to bring heavy snowfall and high winds. The Governor also directed non-essential state employees impacted by the winter storm to stay home from work on Tuesday without having to charge accruals. 

At the Governor’s direction, MTA express subway service will be suspended after the rush hour Tuesday night in order to store trains underground on those tracks. Beginning at 4 a.m. Tuesday, above-ground service on the subway will also be suspended. Commuters traveling on New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road and Metro North are encouraged to stay home tomorrow, if possible, as additional service changes are expected. As the state continues to prepare for the storm, New Yorkers should exercise caution, avoid unnecessary travel and pay close attention to winter storm advisories as the day progresses.

The Governor held a conference call with state officials to provide an update on state preparations.

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:

Governor Cuomo: Thank you very much. I’m joined by a number of officials who may be helpful in answering questions. Most relevant, we have Pat Foye, who’s the executive director of the Port Authority, Ronnie Hakim, who is the director of the MTA, and Matt Driscoll, Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. As everybody has heard, Mother Nature plans on visiting us later tonight. The expectation is she’s going to bring a wintry fury with her, which we are taking quite seriously.

As everyone knows, weather forecasts often change and we’ve experienced a number of times, but this forecast has been fairly consistent for a period of time and is significant in terms of snowfall, so we’re taking it very seriously. Again, it’s supposed to start later this evening after midnight. Driving will be especially hazardous on Tuesday all across the state but especially during the morning and evening commute. Peak snowfall will be Tuesday, and the snow may linger until Wednesday. 

The latest forecast models indicate a westerly shift for the storm which will bring higher accumulations to the Mid-Hudson and the Capital Region. For Western New York and the Finger Lakes and Central New York, snow is expected to cover those areas with up to 10-20 inches over 36 hours. In Western New York and Central New York areas with higher elevations are expected to have higher totals.

In the Capital Region, the heaviest accumulations are expected in the south and eastern part of the Capital Region where we can expect up to 24 inches of snow from late Monday through Tuesday night. Mid-Hudson, New York City and Long Island: snow will move into the lower Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island regions after midnight on Tuesday. By the evening commute, there’s a strong potential for 20-24 inches of snow with high winds, which makes the situation more dangerous, more problematic with possible white out conditions. Snowfall rates may reach two to four inches per hour at intermittent periods. Two to four inches per hour is significant because that is above the rate that snow clearing machinery is effective. 

The gusts of wind are expected to be 40-50 miles per hour in New York City and Nassau County and potentially parts of western Suffolk County. Minor coastal flooding is also to be expected. We will announce a state of emergency that will go into effect statewide and that state of emergency will go into effect at midnight tonight. State employees who are non-essential state employees don’t need to come to work in every region except the North Country, where we do not expect a significant snowfall. MTA service will be suspended above ground tomorrow, starting at 4 a.m. So that is important. If the forecast is as we expect, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North will be significantly impacted. The level of snow fall that is forecast would prohibit safe operation of the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North, so people should stay home unless absolutely necessary. There will be a final decision by the MTA, which will be posted on their website at 4:30 a.m. But, if the forecast remains as we believe it will, expect that the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North will be significantly impacted, in terms of operation.

We have taken full precautions. We have deployed all available personnel and equipment. We will have roughly 2,000 National Guard Troops have been pulled up. We have, from the Department of Transportation, several thousand operations and several thousand pieces of equipment that are being deployed now all across the state. This is an especially problematic mission for us. Normally we have one region of the state effected and we deploy assets from the remainder of the state to the effected region. Normally it’s Western New York or Long Island, etcetera.

This is a statewide situation, so therefore, we must deploy statewide, which obviously spreads out resources thin. We’re coordinating with all our local governments and our federal partners across the state to make sure we’re as best prepared as we can be for this storm. As you know, we’ve had more than our share of experience with emergencies and storms. Mother Nature has been acting up recently. I won’t opine to the cause on this phone call, but extreme weather is a reality. Extreme weather is the new normal. We are in much better shape to deal with it than we ever have been before and we are fully deployed statewide to do the best we can. But, people have to remember their responsibility in a situation like this and there’s only so much we can do.

We want to clear the streets. We want to get the railroads working. We want to keep the subway working. And the lower volume, the lower traffic – the more the first responders and emergency personnel can do their job. So plan for tomorrow. Many areas in the state are closing schools. It’s a good day to stay home. In any case, it’s going to be a dangerous, dangerous situation. So, I would only plan on travel if it is especially important tomorrow. But, we will keep you posted as we go on.