ITHACA, N.Y. — Snow plows are ready to go, and there’s plenty of salt on hand for the winter storm expected to hit Ithaca beginning Monday night. Officials advise residents not to use the roads if possible during the storm.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Tompkins and much of Central New York from 8 p.m. Monday until 8 p.m. Wednesday. The NWS is predicting between 10 and 15 inches of heavy snow. Localized amounts may be up to 18 inches, especially at higher elevations. The winter storm is expected to impact all of the Northeast.
Snowfall rates could hit an inch an hour and will create slippery road conditions and poor visibility. Those conditions add up to dangerous travel conditions.
The City of Ithaca is offering free parking during the storm in the Dryden Road, Seneca Street and Green Street parking garages on Tuesday. Vehicles must be removed from the garage by 9 a.m. Wednesday to avoid fees. (Read the city’s full news release below.)
Ray Benjamin, assistant superintendent of streets and facilities, said the City of Ithaca has nine plows geared up, including five large trucks and four smaller trucks. Snow crews will be working 24/7.
Benjamin said the snow crews prioritize keeping Route 13 and Route 96 to the hospital open, as well as Route 79. He urges residents to follow the odd/even parking on residential streets so plows can get through. He also asked that residents park as tightly to the curb as possible.
Benjamin said they have plenty of salt for the roads, and an additional round of salt has come just come in. The City of Ithaca keeps an average of 2,400 tons of salt a year, he said.
Benjamin said crews will do their best to keep up with the storm and keep roads clear. He asks that people give plows room to work and stay off the roads as much as possible.
Tompkins County provides snow and ice control to about half of the 300 miles of roads under its jurisdictions, according to Jeffrey Smith, director of the Tompkins County Highway Department. The county contracts with the towns to do the other half.
Smith said trucks are loaded with salt and ready to go. Smith said they are watching the forecast closely and planning accordingly.
“We want to be ready and moving just before, or as the storm is beginning. This ensures the safest roads under most conditions. While we are doing that; we are busy with making sure all the vehicles and equipment are ready to go,” Smith said in an email. “Our mechanics are busy fixing anything that is needed, and making sure any parts we may need in a hurry are ordered or here resting on our stock room shelf. Outside of that, and the anticipation we all feel waiting for the storm to hit; it’s pretty much a regular day here.”
The Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office also urges people to avoid travel if they can during the storm. However, if people do need to travel during the storm, the sheriff’s office reminds people to leave early and take their time to reach their destinations safely, Lt. Daniel Donahue said. Drivers should also make sure they have a full tank of gas.
If travelers are involved in an accident or their vehicle slides off the road, the sheriff’s office advises people to stay in their vehicle, activate the hazard lights, call for assistance and “be patient.” Donahue said no unnecessary travel is the “safest remedy to the snowstorm.”
People who must travel should keep an extra flashlight, food, water, warm clothing and blankets in their cars in case of emergency.
Need help with snow shoveling? The Tompkins County Office of the Aging keeps a list of people willing to shovel on a paid or volunteer basis. Contact the office at 607-274-5482 for more information.
For detailed tips on winter weather preparedness, visit www.ready.gov/winter-weather.
News release from the City of Ithaca regarding pending winter storm:
In anticipation of significant snowfall accumulations beginning early Tuesday morning, the City of Ithaca will be strictly enforcing the odd/even parking regulation and the 24-hour parking regulation so that the streets can be adequately cleared of snow as quickly as possible. Some of the City’s streets are very narrow and snowplows cannot navigate them when vehicles are parked on both sides of the street. You can assist with snow removal efforts by parking on the correct side of the street. Violators will be ticketed and in some cases made be towed at the owner’s expense if vehicles are hampering snow removal efforts.
To assist our residents and visitors during the winter storm, the City is offering free overnight parking in the Dryden Road, Seneca Street, and Green Street parking garages on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. Vehicles must be removed from the garage by 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning to avoid being charged parking fees.
Avoid unnecessary travel so the plows can navigate the streets more efficiently. Clearing the main arterial roadways and the hills to facilitate emergency vehicles and necessary traffic is the main priority for the snowplow crews. Secondary streets will cleared as soon as possible but may take longer to complete.
Safety Message: Children love to play in the snow but please be especially vigilant and do not allow children to play in, or walk on, snow piles next to the street. Snow plow operators will be working hard to clear the streets, and may not be able to see children who are hidden by the snow.
Property owners and managers are reminded of their responsibilities to clear the full, paved width of sidewalks and curb-cuts on their property of snow and ice within 24 hours of the beginning of a snowfall. If sidewalks are not cleared in a timely manner, the City may clear the sidewalk and bill the property owner for the service. Clear snow away from fire hydrants so that they are easily identified and accessible when firefighters need to use them.
Working together is the best way that we can mitigate the impact this storm will have on our community. The City of Ithaca appreciates your voluntary compliance with these regulations.