A winter weather hazard and how it’s monitored in Central New York

Winter Outlook 2020

Central New York sees its fair share of snow in a typical winter. We all know that driving in snow and ice is not fun and can be challenging, but another hazard that is very dangerous and isn’t talked about much is blowing and drifting snow.

Public Information Officer Curtis Jetter of the New York State DOT said that they stay on top of the road conditions in CNY with their technology.

Jetter explains how they monitor the area…“With our Traffic Management Center in downtown Syracuse, we have large screen monitors that we can follow all our traffic cameras throughout all of CNY and if one of our operators sees a problem with blowing or drifting snow they will alert the local residency to the issue and that residency can respond accordingly.”

Of course, there are hot spots when it comes to blowing and drifting snow which Jetter says have to be monitored very closely after a snowfall.

He touches on a few trouble spots…“ Onondaga Lake Parkway would be one. The stretch of 81 up towards the Tug Hill Plateau is another where the wind can really pick up and blow recently fallen lake effect snow across 81. Another area that people don’t always pay attention to are the hills down south of the city thru Lafayette.”

It’s those dry powdery snowfalls, not so much a wet snowfall, that really causes havoc on roadways even days after the fluffy snow fell!

This is why you have to use caution in the winter after a snowfall, especially when it’s windy.

Let’s say you are driving up 81 thru CNY at 65 or 70 mph on a nice dry road one minute and then suddenly you come upon a snow covered patch of highway due to blowing and drifting. At 70 mph that likely isn’t going to end good!

So remember this winter when driving, especially when it’s windy after a recent snowfall to be weather aware and don’t let your guard down.

I asked Jetter if they lay down any brine solution on roads when blowing and drifting snow is expected? He says no. The only time the state will lay down the solution is prior to a significant widespread winter weather event to prevent the snow and ice from bonding with the pavement, making the removal of the snow and ice easier to clear off the roads.

Jetter says, it’s a good indicator if you see plows putting the brine solution down on the roads/highways that some significant winter weather is on the way.

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