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Major storm to bring strong winds, quick freeze to roads across CNY

Payne Horning
WRVO News (file photo)

State and local officials are preparing for a winter storm that should hit central and northern New York Friday.

Gov. Kathy Hochul is calling this the “kitchen sink storm.”

"Mother Nature is going to throw everything she has at us, and that means wind, ice, snow, freezing rain,” said Hochul. It’s going to be extraordinary."

Hochul declared a state of emergency for the entire state starting Thursday evening and continuing through Monday. All commercial vehicles will be banned from the NYS Thruway between exit 46 and the Pennsylvania border starting at 6 a.m. Friday. Trucks will be restricted to the right lane only on Interstate 81 from exit 32 (Central Square) to exit 51 (Alex Bay) starting at noon Friday.

The storm that has been rumbling across the country has seen temperature drops of nearly 50 degrees in just a few hours in some places.

It won’t be quite that extreme in New York, but officials with the National Weather Service are still calling it a "once in a generation" storm.

The weather service says central and northern New York should see some rain Friday morning with temperatures in the mid to upper 40s. Around midday, a strong cold front will pass through, and temperatures will drop into the 20s within a few hours.

The big concern for officials is that roadways wet from rain could freeze, because the rain will wash away salt on treated roads.

"Our ability to treat those roads is going to be a real challenge,” said McMahon. “Even though we have large trucks, and lots of large trucks, large trucks don’t do well on ice."

Curtis Jetter, State Department of Transportation spokesman for the central New York region, said it’s simply a matter of timing.

"Salting the roadways is kind of a difficult scenario, because you don’t want to salt roadways and have the rain wash it off,” said Jetter. “So you want to get out there and get salt on the roadways before it freezes, so it’s more of a timing element to get out there at the right time and treat the conditions that are coming."

Due to the timing of the storm, many schools decided to cancel classes Friday.

Other concerns from this storm include high winds that could lead to downed power lines and widespread power outages.

Officials are also concerned about flooding, and the possibility of lake-effect snow. So the advice for anyone hitting the road tomorrow? Watch the time.

“Specifically between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. right now, that might change as we get more information, but that’s when the initial freeze will start,” said McMahon. “And those first few hours will be the most difficult to get salt on the roads and have the salt to be effective."

McMahon has issued a travel advisory for Onondaga County from 7 a.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday. The advisory does not restrict travel, but is a warning for drivers that hazardous driving conditions are likely.

Once the storm moves through, the big issue will be the wind and cold temperatures, with wind chill advisories in effect Wind gusts Friday night will reach 40-50 mph at times, with overnight lows near 10. Wind chills early Saturday could be as low as -20 in some spots, with high temperatures Saturday between 15-20 degrees.

In addition to the cold, heavy lake effect snow will fallacross the North Country. A blizzard warning is in effect for Jefferson County from 1 p.m. Friday until 1 p.m. Monday. 2-3 feet of snow is possible across parts of the North Country by Monday, with locally higher totals.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
Jason has served as WRVO's news director in some capacity since August 2017. As news director, Jason produces hourly newscasts, and helps direct local news coverage and special programming. Before that, Jason hosted Morning Edition on WRVO from 2009-2019. Jason came to WRVO in January of 2008 as a producer/reporter. Before that, he spent two years as an anchor/reporter at WSYR Radio in Syracuse.