Why weren’t the roads clean?
Motorists fuming over massive traffic delays caused by historical November storm

On Thursday evening, the Orange County Emergency Management office, via its Facebook page, said that more than 200 New York State plows were out (not including county and town local plows also out on the roads) and around the area helping with the response.

Editor’s note: What was your Nov. 15 Nor’easter commuting nightmare? Send your tale of woe to editor.pn@strausnews.com and we’ll look to share as many stores as possible.

By Nancy Kriz
Al Roker held his head in shame on this morning’s Today Show program, but First Due Weather from the Compound, the hyperlocal Facebook weather site, did not.
Motorists throughout the local area are still livid (an understatement, if you live with one of those drivers) over Thursday evening’s commuting nightmare, wondering what happened with all those forecasters who got it wrong … except for FDW.
This Nor’easter is one for the record books. The last time a storm like this occurred, Roker said during the 7 a.m. broadcast, was 126 years ago.
In 1892, Ellis Island had opened to immigrants, Grover Cleveland defeated incumbent Republican President Benjamin Harrison and George V was the British king.
“It looks like our region received anywhere from eight to 13 inches of snow from the event thus far, based off ‘Intel’ from our followers,” FDW wrote on its site. “We forecasted eight to 12 inches for the Orange County area and everyone thought we were over- medicated.”
Being accurate is one thing, but not being prepared is another.
“It most looks like a Third World nation with all the abandoned and crashed cars off so many different roadways,” FDW wrote. “The state roads were like driving off- road and had major ruts from packed snow.”
Snowfall totalsFriday morning snowfall totals, as reported to the National Weather Service, included nine inches in Monroe; 9.2 inches in Middletown; 10.2 inches in Highland Mills; and 10.2 inches in Goshen.
State Senator-elect James Skoufis said he would be investigating what caused the issue with road conditions which caused the massive travel delays.
“To be clear: this is in no way a reflection of the hardworking people who are out clearing our roads,” he wrote on his Facebook page. "But, this is a failure from the top. Countless constituents have relayed horror stories of getting stuck in three, four or five hours of standstill traffic tonight for a drive that normally takes a few minutes. I've never seen anything like this.
"While I understand this is a lot of snow for mid-November, the state DOT's response to this predicted storm is embarrassing and unacceptable," Skoufis added. "Where was the preparation? Where are the plows? I'm in contact with DOT and will be demanding answers and full accountability.”
Area schools dismissed students early enough that they were delivered back to their homes well before the first snowflakes fell.
But it wasn’t known how businesses and other organizations handled employee departures once the snowfall started about 3 p.m.
Travel weather woesSocial media posters told tales of sitting for hours and hours and hours in traffic. Posted videos and photos showed stalled and stuck cars, trucks and buses.
• A ride home from the Port Authority Terminal in Manhattan to Monroe took six hours.
• A ride from Pearl River to Monroe, via the Palisades Parkway, took seven hours.
• A normal commute from Goshen to Monroe on Route 17 took five hours.
• And motorists, who were so close to home, reported being stuck on the top of Route 6 in Harriman for five hours before traffic started moving about 10 p.m.
If you knew someone who commuted to any work place in the tri-state area, that person had a similar story to tell, with varying degrees of frustration and disgust.
On Thursday evening, the Orange County Emergency Management office, via its Facebook page, said that more than 200 New York State plows were out (not including county and town local plows also out on the roads) and around the area helping with the response.
Accidents‘The issue is not the plows,” that site wrote to followers. “The traffic accidents from the slick roads and people driving too fast for conditions have caused significant back-ups and the plows can’t get through. They have to go up the roads from the other direction, but they need the tow trucks first. The tow trucks have to pull the cars out of the road that were in the accidents before the plows can even do anything. And as soon as we do open a lane, people are so frustrated that they speed through, spin out, get stuck and we have to start all over again.”
OCEM reported during the night that multiple disabled vehicles and some disabled tractor trailers were cleared by State Police on Interstate 84.
On Route 17, jack-knifed tractor trailers needed special heavy duty rigs to get them out of ditches.
On Route 6, plows were able to finally move in both directions to Route 32 and the Bear Mountain Circle.
New York State and local police departments helped bring fuel and water to stranded motorists at this time.
The work of emergency respondersOCEM praised emergency responders for their work.
“Although forecasters called for one to three inches during rush hour, and eight plus (inches) throughout the night, Orange County fielded over 15 inches in some areas with the majority of it in the first four hours alone,” OCEM wrote. “Thank you to all the police departments, fire departments, EMS, dispatchers, plow trucks and tow truck drivers who worked throughout the night to clean up this storm.”
Follow First Due Weather from the Compound on Facebook for regular weather updates and forecasts.