Updated at 12:09 a.m., Feb. 8, 2013
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Ready or not, here it comes!
Hours from now, the Tri-State Area is expected to be blanketed with heavy snow and rain, and bashed by powerful winds.
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for New York City, Long Island, northeastern New Jersey, all of Connecticut and southern Westchester County. It will be in effect starting 6 a.m. Friday through 1 p.m. Saturday.
Snow accumulations are expected to range from 10 to 14 inches, with higher amounts in areas north and east of New York City. For its part, the city is expected to get about 6 to 12 inches.
Areas west and south of New York City are expected to get 3 to 6 inches.
The strongest winds and heaviest snow will occur Friday evening into Saturday morning, the National Weather Service said.
“We could very well end up using that term again — superstorm. This is sort of a winter version of a superstorm,” CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn, with his jacket off and sleeves rolled up, said Thursday evening.
Another big concern is flooding along the coast, especially for residents still cleaning up from Superstorm Sandy. A coastal flood watch will also be in effect Friday night through Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, crews were out in full force on Thursday, making sure plows were ready to go. Salt trucks were being filled and are now just waiting for their call to hit the streets.
In area grocery stores, stocked shelves were quickly getting bare. People were stocking up on the essentials ahead of the storm that could force them to be stuck inside this weekend.
SNOW STARTS FRIDAY, GETS WORSE OVERNIGHT
CBS 2’s Quinn said he expected some snow to begin falling around 8 a.m. Friday. As the day continues, closer to about 1 p.m., Quinn said the area will see a rain and sleet mix.
However, the nor’easter will pack a mighty punch beginning around 8 p.m. into 2 a.m. Saturday. That is when Quinn said snow could accumulate up to 10 inches.
From 2 a.m. Saturday through the morning hours, the area is expected to see only light snow, Quinn added.
Quinn predicted that areas far north of the city, including Orange, Westchester and Putnam counties, could see more than 14 inches of snow.
“The bull’s-eye is going to be areas west of Boston, Mass.,” Quinn said.
NYC PREPARES FOR THE WORST
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the Department of sanitation has declared a snow alert beginning at 4 a.m. Friday and workers will begin split 12-hour shifts starting 7 p.m. Friday.
Bloomberg also issued a severe weather advisory for New York City, starting Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. That advisory means the public is urged to avoid unnecessary driving and use public transportation.
Vehicles found to be blocking roadways or impeding the ability to plow streets will also be subject to towing at the owner’s expense.
Another important note is that City government and public schools will be open on Friday, but after-school programs are subject to cancellation.
The city is loading 365 salt spreaders and has more than 250,000 tons of salt on hand.
“We’ll be salting as soon as the roads turn white,” Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said. “I expect tomorrow night when it starts to come down we’ll be out plowing. There is an off chance that we could be plowing tomorrow morning if the temperature doesn’t rise early enough but we’re prepared for that. We will be ready with our plows and our salt spreaders. We’ve started going around the clock already with our operation.”
With the storm approaching, Mayor Bloomberg said the good news is that so far this winter, the city has not touched any of the money in its snow removal budget.
“The better news is that if it’s going to happen, overnight Friday into Saturday is probably as good timing as we could have because the sanitation department then has the advantage of being able to clean the streets when there’s normally less traffic,” the mayor told reporters including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.
Bloomberg said sanitation workers will be working around the clock to clear the city’s 6,300 miles of streets.
For More Information About NYC’s Preparations For The Storm, Click Here.
The public will be able to see where plows have been using the city’s plow-tracker system which was created following the 2011 Christmas snowstorm.
To Track The City’s Plowing Progress, Click Here.
Alternate side parking regulations will be suspended Friday. The Queens Midtown Tunnel closure planned for this weekend has been canceled because of the approaching storm, the Metropolitan Transit Authority said.
OFFICIALS, AGENCIES IN NY, NJ & CONN GET READY
New York State officials are bracing for the storm and warn winds could howl up to 60 miles per hour.
“This is a dangerous storm with a lot of blowing snow and very significant winds that will make travel on Friday night into Saturday morning almost impossible,” said New York State Commissioner of Emergency Services Jerry Hauer.
Officials said city subways and buses will be running
“But as you approach the teeth of the storm that’s when you are worried about getting equipment stranded and people stranded on that equipment,” MTA interim chief Tom Prendergast told reporters including WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
Hauer said residents in Sandy-stricken areas should prepare for tidal flooding.
The Port Authority said it is deploying extra personnel throughout its facilities.
NJ TRANSIT will offer full system wide cross-honoring on Friday and Saturday enabling customers to give customers additional travel options.
“NJ TRANSIT has actually been preparing for more than two days for this storm, extensive preparations, watching the weather models. We obviously see the changes and have been planning accordingly,” NJ TRANSIT spokesman John Durso, Jr. told WCBS 880.
The Department of Buildings called on property owners and contractors to secure their buildings and sites ahead of the storm, which is expected to pack wind gusts of up to 60 mph. Loose material, tools, debris needs to be secured, and crane operations need to be suspended and cranes secured when gusts hit 30 mph.
From snow blowers, to shovels, to big bags of snow-melt, people across the Tri-State were stocking up ahead of the storm, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported.
“When the weather gets bad you can’t drive so you might as well do it now,” said Mario Betancourt of Union City.
“I think it’s going to be a light winter myself, but it’s always better to be prepared,” said Raymond Mezer of North Arlington.
Storm weary Long Islanders still feeling the effects from Sandy are bracing for the worst, stocking up at a Stop and Shop supermarket in Woodbury for another punch from Mother Nature.
“They’re stocking up on the staple items like bread, milk and eggs just to keep some backup in case they’re stuck in the house for a couple of days,” manager Mike Kramer said.
In Hackensack, crews are busy cooking up hundreds of thousands of gallons of salt brine. They’ve already started spreading it on the streets.
“It coats the road, creates a light film and it starts snowing nothing sticks to the road,” explained Tony Sedita of the Hackensack Department of Public Works.
Salt brine isn’t a new solution, but it’s becoming a more popular one. Local governments say it can save up to 30 percent on snow removal costs. Crews can start laying it down well ahead of the storm, and once the snow starts, the brine melts about 2 inches per hour. That makes the job much quicker for plow crews, and the roads safer for drivers.
“We pretreat our sidewalks and streets with a mixture of salt brine and calcium chloride,” said Joe Crifasi, Bergen County Director of Public Works and General Services.
Out on Long Island’s east end, where a foot of snow could fall, county and local officials are geared up and ready to go. Sand trucks are filled, gassed up, and their plows are ready to roll.
Trucks that barely finished cleaning up down trees from Superstorm Sandy are now being outfitted as plows.
“The great storm of October, also known as Hurricane Sandy, has really broken down a lot of our natural defenses against storms of this magnitude,” Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto said. “Where once we would not be as concerned about this storm we really are terribly concerned.”
In Yaphank, snow plow trucks are gassed up and crews are planning to work overtime to fight old man winter.
“We have about 1,600 miles… of road that we have to cover. We’re processing about 20,000 tons of salt,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
While he acknowledged that LIPA is preparing for the storm, he is concerned in the wake of superstorm Sandy.
“I’m very concerned. In the aftermath of that, a lot of the electrical infrastructure is put together in a patchwork fashion just to get the lights back on. What will be the impact of a significant storm now hitting us again?” he said.
The Long Island Power Authority has promised to be ready and is closely monitoring the incoming storm. The governor’s office has warned National Grid they need to be ready, but residents said they’ve taken their own steps to prepare.
“After the storm that we just had we have a generator,” one woman told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “Hopefully we won’t lose anything out on the island.”
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano was also advising homeowners to get ready.
“During just the last weather event there was significant power outages and residents could expect power outages,” Mangano said. “We ask them to prepare themselves now, obviously with a battery-operated radio and flash light. Certainly if they have generators this is the time to ready those generators if they’re gas powered.”
Other local utilities such as Con Edison in New York and PSE&G in New Jersey are also making emergency preparations to respond to any outages that may occur as a result of the storm.
Heavy snow, icing and strong winds can increase the possibility of downed wires and power outages.
Across Connecticut, officials are anticipating that 10 percent of customers could lose power, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced Thursday evening.
The state Department of Transportation said it is ready for the storm, with 800 plow trucks ready to go. The trucks have also been pretreating bridges and roads with a salt-brine solution.
Badly hit by Superstorm Sandy, the town of Fairfield is now bracing for another powerful storm, this one with the added ingredients of a lot of snow and frigid temperatures.
First Selectman Mike Tetreau said losing power in any winter storm is a huge concern.
“Certainly in a winter storm, when you’re out of power, you’re also out of heat and that would be one of my primary concerns and that’s when we want kind of of our neighborhoods and neighbors to look after others on the street and make sure everybody’s doing okay,” he told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.
Tetreau said plans are being made to open shelters if necessary to provide heat, but he says a lot snow coming in certainly could delay efforts to repair downed power lines.
At Connecticut Light & Power, workers are putting chains on the tires and stocking equipment ahead of the storm.
But officials warn that if the power gets knocked out by the heavy, wet snow and high winds, it could stay out for quite a while in some areas.
“There is the potential, sure. There could be some major challenges due to the snowfall amounts and possible whiteout driving conditions from the very high winds, obviously. If it is not safe to do so, they won’t put those buckets up into the air to go to work,” CL&P spokesman Mitch Gross told Schneidau.
Gross said the linemen will make the call when it’s safe to raise those buckets and get to work on the downed power wires.
In Westchester County, New Castle Public Works Commissioner Anthony Vaccaro said they are also gearing up for the snowstorm.
“Our entire crew is working today, either preparing their trucks or checking out their snow plow routes,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell.
They’re trying to get ahead of the storm as well.
“We also have a crew pre-treating our roads with liquid brine,” he said. That creates a barrier between the asphalt and the first flakes.
In Armonk, residents who still have not fully recovered from Sandy said they are not ready for another round of severe weather.
“We have tons of food, plenty to drink, stuff for the fireplace, flashlights just in case,” Armonk resident Kim Leary told Haskell.
“Am I happy about it? No. What are you going to do? You have to make sure you have plenty of wood and good wine,” Beverly Kezsbom told Haskell.
Airlines are getting ahead of the storm, too. Some flights have already been canceled, and many airlines are waiving the fee to change your flight. Travelers are urged to contact their carriers before going to airport or bus terminals to check departure times.
Are you gearing up ahead of the powerful winter storm? Tell us about it in the comments section below.