Utica, N.Y. - Governor Andrew Cuomo made a whirlwind tour across Upstate New York on Saturday before the real whirlwinds and between one and two feet of snow are expected beginning Saturday night. He called the storm potentially quite dangerous.
Cuomo spoke to reporters at the New York State D.O.T. facility on Chenango Rd. in Utica Saturday afternoon just before 2:00.
He had previously held similar press conferences regarding the storm earlier in the day, first near Buffalo, then in Binghamton, before heading to Utica and from Utica he went on to Westchester.
In Utica, Cuomo said this is a going to be a difficult storm for two reasons, "The first is there's a significant amount of snowfall that is forecast, 18-20 inches in that range. Forecasts, as we've learned, vary somewhat but a significant amount of snow. On top of that a very high level of wind. On top of that, the temperatures are going to drop significantly, it could go as low as minus 15 with the wind chill factor. You put those three elements together and it's a dangerous situation and that's what we are looking for and that's what we are preparing for. The Second complication is this is a statewide storm. Normally when we have an extreme weather event it's isolated in one region of the state, or two regions of the state and then we have the advantage of deploying assets from all across the state to that region. In this situation it will be a statewide storm, worse in some areas and a little better in other areas, but it's going to be a problem all across the state. So, we don't have the advantage of then deploying assets from other parts of the state to any particular region."
Cuomo also talked about the decision to ban tractor-trailers and buses from the Thruway beginning at 3:00 Saturday afternoon, "I think that's going to be an advantage, especially with the high wind. All you need is one tractor-trailer to jack knife and it can close a road for hours. So, we are ready, we've done everything that we can possibly do to get ready. We'll stay fully engaged until the storm has passed and we'll keep coordinated until the storm is passed. I would ask cooperation and help from the people of the state. It's a holiday weekend, luckily. People don't have to go to work, and if you don't have to be on the road you shouldn't be on the road. It's a danger to yourselves and it's a danger to others."
Many Utica-Rome area officials were on hand for the Governor's press conference.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente has some advice for area residents, "If you don’t have to be on the road, please don’t be on the road, especially during the hours when the storm is at his heaviest. If your neighbors are elderly, please check on them, especially in these conditions."
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri echoed those statements and urged all residents to have their vehicles off the roadways, "Allow the professionals to do their job." He added, "This is not a time to go out and challenge Mother Nature."
Palmieri and Utica City D.P.W. Commissioner Dave Short says he and the mayor have been meeting all week to prepare for this storm and city is as ready as it possibly can be.
Short says there are extra personnel on in three city departments, "Fire department has put on extra guys on, police department has extra guys on, I have what availability of crews that I have."
Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo was also on hand on Saturday. She says Rome is also prepared to work 24/7 through this storm, "We're all set, we've got our crews that will be coming in later, we'll be plowing all through the storm. It looks like the concentration of the storm is going to be about 12 hours, from 9 o'clock tonight until 9 o'clock tomorrow morning.
Izzo says everyone is also concerned about the strong winds and frigid temperatures that will follow the one to two feet of snow expected to fall through Sunday, "Snow is one thing, but were very concerned about the wind and the frigid temperatures that are going to come behind us, we're hoping that we don't get too many power outages and too many downed trees. Our biggest concern is that we can help people that might not have shelter to shelter them, our Police Department will be doing that and if people do lose power and if they call and they need oxygen, those are the types of things that really concern us."
Cuomo says he is fearful of this storm, "It would be unintelligent not to be anxious about the situation, it is a life-threatening situation. It's very possible over the next few days we could have a loss of life and that scares me."