ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency Thursday afternoon for all counties in the state, shutting down some major highways downstate at midnight including the Thruway south of Albany and asking – but not ordering – people elsewhere to try to stay off the roads as a major winter storm barreled into the region.
Snow, winds and temperatures at the zero mark were forecast across much of the state overnight and into Friday morning. On Long Island, blizzard warnings have been issued.
With the brunt of a winter storm expected to hit later this evening, Cuomo declared the state of emergency for the state, which allows the state to bypass some red tape in order to move around trucks and supplies to localities.
Cuomo also announced that the Thruway south of Albany will close tonight at midnight and, if snow is cleared, reopen at 5 a.m. Friday.
In addition to that long stretch of the Thruway, Cuomo said Interstate 84 – which runs from the Connecticut to Pennsylvania lines – will also close at midnight, as well as the Long Island Expressway east of Queens.
“This is nothing to be trifled with,’’ Cuomo said of the storm that could dump up to 14 inches of snow in some upstate areas. Cuomo said the highway closures are to ensure “no one is in a state of danger’’ either driving or stuck in snow on the roads and to give plows an easier path to clear snow.
Cuomo said there are no plans to close the Thruway in other upstate areas, including Western New York, but conditions could change that.
Cuomo said the eight-hour notice given to drivers about the road closures was meant to avoid traffic problems that could result from a sudden shutdown. Portions of the state, including the Buffalo area and Long Island, have seen major problems in recent years with drivers stuck in their cars during snowstorms.