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Gov. Cuomo Issues Travel Ban Until Sunday Morning As Blizzard Wallops New York

UPDATED 01/24/16 12:28 a.m.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York metropolitan region is being pummeled by a massive blizzard, forcing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to issue a travel ban that impacts roads and railways.

All New York City roads, Port Authority bridges and tunnels and roads on Long Island were shut down at 2:30 p.m. Saturday because of treacherous conditions. The travel ban will be in effect until 7 a.m. Sunday, Cuomo said Saturday evening.

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In a conference call with reporters late Saturday, Cuomo said keeping the ban in place until 7 p.m. will provide ample time for crews to clear the roads.

“It will give the emergency crew the entire night to continue their work cleaning the roads, and give the Port Authority the entire night to work on the bridges and the tunnels, and we believe at this time that at 7 a.m., we will be able to lift the travel ban across downstate New York,” Cuomo said.

The task of clearing the roads will be far easier once the snow slows down, Cuomo said.

“When the snow is coming down too quickly – roughly over 3 inches per hour – the plows can’t keep up with the snow. But we don’t think that’s going to happen tonight by the forecast. Therefore, we think by 7 a.m., the roads may be clear.”

But earlier, Cuomo said even though snow-fighting trucks were out in force, there is only so much they could do, WCBS 880’s Stephanie Colombini reported.

“The plows can’t keep up and the situation is getting worse,” Cuomo said. “Safety is our number one priority and right now, it is not safe for the general public to travel.”

Photos on Twitter showed the governor assisting a stranded motorist on the Cross Island Parkway.

Motorists in non-emergency vehicles caught on a banned road will receive a summons with the possibility of points on their license and a fine.

Additionally, LIRR, Metro-North and Staten Island Railroad suspended service at 4 p.m. The MTA also suspended service on all above ground subways at 4 p.m.

MTA bus service was suspended at noon on Saturday due to the deteriorating conditions. It remains unclear when bus service would resume.

“This only works if we all work together because in a situation like this there is no Nassau County or Suffolk County or Manhattan or Queens, it’s just one area that is effected by a storm,” Cuomo said.

Earlier Saturday, Cuomo issued a state of emergency for areas impacted by the storm. The state of emergency applies to New York City, as well as Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties.

Cuomo said the National Guard is prepared to deploy 600 personnel, hundreds of pieces of equipment have been brought in from the Department of Transportation and state police have been dispatched.

“Everything that can be done has been done in terms of deployment of resources,” Cuomo said.

PHOTOS: Blizzard Strikes Tri-State Area

The National Weather Service said the midnight Saturday morning reading came in at 26.8 inches in Central Park. If it stands, it will be the second highest total since records have been kept in 1869.

The current record is just 0.1 inches higher. A record of 26.9 inches dates back to February 2006, CBS2’s Lonnie Quinn reported.

A few hours earlier, the highest total in the Tri-State Area was seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where the total topped out at 27.7 inches as of 9:30 p.m. Staten Island saw 27.1 inches, and Fort Greene, Brooklyn saw 18.5 inches.

“I am not a hyper-cautious individual and we get through a lot of tough things, but today really is the day to stay home and stay off the roads,” Cuomo added.

Most bus service out of the Port Authority Bus Terminal is canceled, but the agency’s Executive Director Patrick Foye said Greyhound buses are operating.

LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports are open, but all arrivals and departures have been canceled.

One of the major concerns for this massive storm is flooding.

“Snow we can deal with, wind we can deal with, the flooding is the nightmare scenario,” Cuomo said. “We’ve been through this before, the flooding is the worst, it’s the worst danger and it does the most damage.”

Police in the 109th Precinct posted a video to Twitter of flooding conditions  at the Whitestone Expressway and Linden Place. They were urging motorists to avoid the area.

Cuomo said Long Island is especially vulnerable and the National Guard is ready to move in if flooding becomes a problem.

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