"Stay off the roads if you can," said Governor Andrew Cuomo on Twitter this afternoon as he announced that he has declared a state of emergency for all of New York State. Interstate 84, portions of the New York State Thruway, and the Long Island Expressway will close at midnight and not reopen before 5am.
Interstate 87 from Albany (Exit 24) south to the New York City border, the southern portion of the New York State Thruway, will close at midnight. Interstate 84 will close to commercial truck and bus traffic at 5pm and to all traffic at midnight, and the Long Island Expressway will close at midnight. Drivers ignoring the highway closures may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.
The Tompkins County Sheriff's Department briefly closed a portion of Route 13 this morning, from Triphammer Road to Stewart Park, and there have been reports of accidents all day, some involving injuries or vehicle damage. Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick urged people early in the day not to travel unnecessarily.
The Ithaca City School District made a decision early this morning to open schools, but reversed it soon after children reached their classrooms. ICSD announced shortly after 9:30am that area middle schools, Ithaca High School, and Lehman Alternative Community School would be dismissed at noon.
Multiple winter storms are combining "to affect every corner of the state," says Cuomo's press statement. A coastal storm has prompted blizzard warnings for Long Island and portions of New England, in addition to the storm system that has pummeled Western and Central New York today.
The state of emergency makes state resources available to local municipalities, and enables the governor to suspend regulations that could otherwise impede rapid response. Other than the above-mentioned highways, the state has not closed any roads. Most road closure decisions are made by counties or local municipalities.
As the snow continues in Central New York, temperatures around Ithaca are expected to dip to around 5 below zero tonight, but strong winds will drop the wind chill effect to as low as 25 or 30 below zero. Pets and other unsheltered animals should be brought inside for the night.