Governor Cuomo declares State of Emergency; closes part of I-81

A 56 mile stretch of I-81 that was closed Monday by Governor Andrew Cuomo has been extended, with severe winter weather plaguing New York State and many other parts of the nation. The State Department of Transporation calls the closure of the highway a "soft closure," with no plans to erect barricades to prevent drivers from getting on the highway.

Interstate 81 between Exits 31 and 45 (Brewerton and Watertown) was closed to all traffic Monday night, and on Tuesday, the closure stretched from the Jefferson County line to the Canadian Border due to multiple accidents.

The Thruway is closed between Exit 55 (Orchard Park) and Exit 61 (Ripley). Westbound traffic on the Thruway continues to be detoured off the roadway at Exit 50 (I-290 west), with all eastbound traffic being detoured off at Exit 61 (Shortman Road, Ripley).

NY Route 219 is closed in both directions between NY Route 39 in Springville and I-90 in Lackawanna. Additionally, NY Route 400 is closed in both directions from NY Route 16 in East Aurora to Seneca Street in West Seneca, NY Route 75 is closed in both directions from NY Route 62 to NY Route 249 and NY Route 5 (Buffalo Skyway) is closed in both directions between I-190 and Tifft Street.

Tuesday morning, State Police began escorting 38 trucks currently stranded at the Angola Service Area, west to the Pennsylvania state line via the Thruway (I-90).

Governor Cuomo declared a State of Emergency for New York as a major winter storm makes its way through Western New York and the Tug Hill Plateau.

The state of emergency covers Lewis, Oswego, Jefferson, Oneida, and Wayne counties and will make additional resources available to local governments to help deal with the storm as it makes its ways through New York. The Governor is encouraging people to stay inside during the storm.

Motorists to Pennsylvania and points west should exit the Thruway at exit 46 (Henrietta) to I-390 southbound and then to I-86 westbound into Pennsylvania. Eastbound travelers in Pennsylvania should exit at I-86 eastbound and then continue north on I-390 to the Thruway in Henrietta.

All closures will remain in place until further notice and motorists are encouraged to refrain from traveling during this winter weather event.

The state deployed additional plows and truck-mounted snow blowers to the area for support.

The New York State Public Service Commission extended its hours from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday to help people prepare for the storm and response efforts. Additional New York Army and Air National Guard citizen soldiers and airmen are also heading into the area to provide assistance to local authorities.