Orangetown Highway Department General Foreman Mike Yannazzone offered the department's employees simple advice Thursday.
"I instructed them en to get a good rest tonight because they know what's coming," Yannazzone said.
What is coming is snow, with some forecasts calling for 10 inches of it in the area, potentially mixed with freezing rain and heavy winds. The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for 7 a.m. today though 1 p.m. Saturday. The potential inclement weather set the Orangetown and Clarkstown Highway Departments to work making preparations Thursday.
"We are anticipating something like six to 10 inches of snow in the area, depending on which way the storm goes. We try to prepare for the worst and hope for the best," Yannazzone said Thursday. "We're doing what we always do. Checking snow removal equipment. Snow blowers. Sidewalk plows. We started off this morning by anti-icing our main roads, putting salt brine on the roads to prevent bonding of ice to the pavement."
Yannazzone said the key is to make sure the liquid solution is on the roads before any precipitation begins to fall, but no more than a day ahead of time. The forecast Thursday called for the snow to begin falling as early as midnight that night.
"We have all our roads pre-treated," Clarkstown Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard said. "It's a well-publicized storm, which helps us because people know about it. Crews are ready to start before Friday's morning rush hour."
Ballard also said that having the storm on a Friday helps because there is no morning commute Saturday to prepare for.
"I'm glad it's a weekend storm," Ballard said. "We can work through the night and get the roads ready Saturday morning for the public."
Events like this normally require all hands on deck for local highway departments. For example, in Clarkstown, that means 56 plow trucks ready to clear 300 miles of roads, 12 commuter lots, bus shelters and sidewalks.
"The smaller highway departments, once they come in, they stay in," Ballard said. "We need everybody."
Heavy snow often slows the clearing process because it wears on the trucks.
"It slows them down and results in more breakdowns," Ballard said.
The highway departments also need to be able to adapt as weather conditions change.
"We make sure roads are salted during critical times and we can dispatch trucks to bad areas to help out," Yannazzone said.
Ballard advised residents to stay off the roads as much as possible. He said it usually takes six hours to clear local roads from the time the last of the snow falls.
"We've all been through Sandy and I hope this is just a standard snow storm," said Nyack Mayor Jen Laird-White, adding that the DPW has been prepping the roads and snow plows.
The Village of Nyack also announced it may need to implement its new snow policy due to possible storm conditions.
"This may necessitate moving your car(s) off Village streets. Please familiarize yourself with our snow policy and note whether you live in an impacted area. We will only implement the policy if conditions are severe enough to warrant it. Determination on whether the snow policy will be implemented will happen closer to the arrival of the storm but with enough time for residents to move their vehicles into their driveways or to find alternatives, whether in Village lots or elsewhere. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause but are certain that this policy, like those in many other municipalities will make snow cleanup faster and safer," according to its website.
New York State Police in Troop "K" also advised residents in the Hudson Valley to avoid unnecessary travel Friday. Snow storms like the one predicted today can lead to road closures, with motorists becoming stranded on highways.
Advice for Clearing Driveways
Ballard suggested that those clearing their own driveway push the snow down to the right side of the driveway so plows would move it further along the property. If the snow is shoveled to the left, plows could push it back into the driveway. He said the best approach is to stand on the driveway facing the street and shovel or blow the snow in the direction that traffic flows.
He also said that individuals or private plow services should not push the snow into the street, which not only creates more work for the highway department, but also hazards for vehicles and pedestrians.
Editor's note: Robin Traum contributed to this report.