Reporting Michael Wallace
NEW YORK (AP/ CBS New York) – January is officially the snowiest month on record for New York City.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it was the snowiest January since the city started keeping records, besting 27.4 inches set in 1925. The accumulation was about twice the amount that had been predicted, he said.
Not surprising after another powerful storm tore through the Tri-State area Wednesday night into Thursday, with lightning, thunder and tons of wet snow, stranding thousands of road, rail and air travelers .
See: Photo of this storm
All New York City public schools and non-emergency city government offices are closed. This is the ninth time since 1978 that schools have been closed due to snow. “Parents, students and staff should assume that schools will be open tomorrow,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
City and state officials will try to find a solution for students who were scheduled to take a regents exams Thursday. About 300 students need to take the test to graduate in January.
Additionally, some government offices, federal courts in Manhattan and the United Nations headquarters closed. Even the Statue of Liberty shut down for snow removal. Bloomberg said as transportation options improve city employees will be expected to get to work.
Parts of Long Island saw upwards of 16 inches.
The Long Island Rail Road, especially when people are still shoveling out, is a symbol. It’s a link to “the outside.” It was vital on Thursday because there was a line of plows digging out towns after the Island got hit the night before — on top of what was already there, as almost every front lawn silently confirmed.
Richard Cioffi had been shoveling for four and a half hours when CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman caught up to him.
“Yeah, maybe I’ll go to Florida, maybe,” Cioffi said.
Motorists were being warned of dangerous road conditions. Limited train service was restored early Thursday on the LIRR. In New Canaan, Conn., a Metro-North commuter train ran off the tracks, suspending service. Its two passengers and crew members were not injured. Amtrak restored normal service between Boston and New York late Thursday morning after cancellations, delays and schedule changes caused by the storm. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says bus routes in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan are being restored. Service was suspended after midnight Thursday because of the storm. The MTA says buses will begin running on all roads as soon as they are cleared and safe.
MTA spokesman Charles Seaton says the system is handling this storm better than the post-Christmas blizzard. “Systemwide things are a lot better than then,” Seaton said. “We’re far better prepared. I believe this storm has been just about as rough as that one.”
Walking also is treacherous. Pedestrians have to walk in the street in some areas because many sidewalks remain unshoveled or are blocked by high mounds of snow.
This intense nor’easter is making a mess of the area’s major airports. Newark and Kennedy, closed for snow removal but began taking flights at 10 a.m. Hundreds of flights were canceled at both airports. LaGuardia Airport had 168 cancellations.
More than 1,100 homes and businesses in the metropolitan New York City area are without electric power. Con Edison reported 355 customers out at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, with 186 of those in Brooklyn. Spokeswoman Sara Banda said the highest number overnight was 1,150. The Long Island Power Authority’s website listed 785 customers out. Orange and Rockland Utilities had no outages at midmorning. Spokesman Mike Donovan said 160 customers were without power for less than an hour overnight.
In a region already contending with above-average snowfall this season, the storm that began Wednesday added several more inches. The National Weather Service says 36 inches of snow fell on Central Park; 32 inches at LaGuardia Airport and 32 inches at JFK.
Since Dec. 14, snow has fallen eight times on the New York region — or an average of about once every five days. That includes the blizzard that dropped 20 inches on New York City and paralyzed travel after Christmas. When the snows arrived Wednesday, the city had already seen 36 inches of snow this season in comparison with the full-winter average of 21 inches.
A weather emergency remains in effect for the city and meter rules and alternate side parking regulations will be suspended through Friday. The city declared a weather emergency for the second time since the Dec. 26 storm, which trapped hundreds of buses and ambulances and caused a political crisis for the mayor. An emergency declaration means any car blocking roads or impeding snowplows can be towed at the owner’s expense.
Bloomberg said the response to the latest storm was better than the blizzard because, “We asked the questions of what didn’t work last time.”
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The heavy foot-and-a-half of snow in the Bronx was too much for the awning in front of the Garden Gourmet supermarket on Broadway and West 233rd St. The approximately 60-foot wide awning crashed to the ground in the early morning hours, covering the storefront. Large pieces of twisted metal filled the sidewalk as workers cut the broken awning into pieces. Manager Andy Zoitas told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon the store could not open on time and at least half a day of business was lost.
On Long Island, a pickup truck plowing a snow-covered parking lot in Center Moriches struck and killed 64-year-old Doris Metz Wednesday afternoon, police said. Metz, of Mastic Beach, was walking across the lot when the truck, which had a snow plow attached, backed into her. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Crashed, spun-out or disabled cars littered highways. More than 250 cars were disabled on New Jersey highways since Wednesday. Officials in the mid-Atlantic region worked to remove dozens of cars and tractor-trailers abandoned by motorists at the height of the storm.