The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch this morning for Eastern New York and Western New England effective during peak travel times for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. From Wednesday morning, Nov. 26 through Thursday morning, Nov. 27, there is a potential for heavy snowfall, up to three inches per hour, with a total accumulation of nine inches possible. The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates 41.3 million will take to the roads and 3.5 million will fly this Thanksgiving holiday travel period, which is defined as beginning this Wednesday and running through Sunday, Nov. 30.
While it is safest to stay home when wintery weather strikes, for those that must travel, the AAA offers this advice. Always let someone know of your travel plans. Ensure your vehicle is prepared for emergencies with at least a half tank of gas, properly inflated tires and an emergency kit stored in the vehicle.
An emergency kit should include blankets or sleeping bags, warm clothing, water and a metal container to use for melting water or snow; matches (note that lighters might not work in extreme cold). Other essentials are a radio and flashlight with extra batteries, food, such as raisins, nuts and hard candy, drinking cups and bright orange or red cloth and a whistle to use for signaling. Don’t forget to fully charge cells phones before heading out.
When confronted with snow and ice covered roads, AAA advises drivers to not use the cruise control function on their vehicles. Accelerate and brake slowly keeping in mind that maneuvering a vehicle on slippery roads takes more time than on dry roads. Assume it will take twice as long to bring a vehicle to a full stop.
The best method for braking on slippery roads is to rest the heel of the foot on the floor and gently apply the brakes with the ball of the foot. Avoid stopping, and do not “power up” to plow through snow as this may cause the wheels to spin and dig the vehicle into a rut. To move a vehicle stuck in snow, try to back up slowly, stop, and then move forward, slowly. The rocking will help the vehicle gain traction.
Stranded motorists should remain with their vehicles, starting their motors sparingly, 15 minutes each hour, to keep warm. Ensure that tail pipes are cleared of snow to prevent dangerous fumes from seeping into the passenger compartment. Do not fall asleep in a running vehicle. Attach a bright piece of fabric to the vehicle to make it more visible to oncoming traffic and first responders.
The Thanksgiving Winter Storm Watch covers Western Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, South Eastern New York north of New York City up through Warren County and all but the most northern counties of Vermont. The storm is expected to pull out Thanksgiving morning.