New York: New program for winter weather road signs


Many of us had that moment driving in blinding snow when suddenly the visibility in front of you is completely gone and you’re not sure if you are going to hit a car in front of you.

“The roads instantly, almost in a blink of an eye go from dry to snow covered,” Stephen DiRienzo, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said.

As DiRienzo explains, snow squalls are the biggest cause of multi-car pile-ups on the Thruway and other highways

“Visibility goes from very good to near zero so people tend to jam on their brakes and that tends to cause accidents.”

The National Weather Service can usually forecast when a dangerous snow squall is likely to hit at least a day or two in advance. So on a pilot basis, there will be warning signs for these squall storms on message boards along all interstates west of Utica and on the Northway from Essex County to the Canadian border.  It will also be on the AM weather radio.

“They’ll be issued for very small areas for a short period of time, generally less than an hour and it’s to warn people of the dangers of rapidly changing weather conditions when snow squalls occur.”

For now, these pilot programs will just be run out of the National Weather Service stations in Buffalo, Binghamton, and Burlington, Vermont.

“In the future, we hope to get them directly into people’s cellphones or into people’s cars.”

If these pilot programs are successful, these warning signs will be implemented across the Thruway system in Upstate NY.

“Should a car be pulled over to the side, we wouldn’t see it, you can’t see anything so by having the marquis boards that highlight that action, I think it lets drivers know. It’s a good thing.” Judy, a driver at a rest stop, said.

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