NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency as Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged New Yorkers to leave work early as a major snowstorm barrels across the region.
A blizzard warning is in effect until 1 p.m. Saturday.
The strongest winds with gusts of up to 45 mph and heaviest snow will occur Friday evening into Saturday morning.
The city could see 10 to 14 inches of snow by the time the system moves out Saturday afternoon.
Bloomberg said the storm could move further east faster in which case the city would get less snow than predicted.
“This is a reasonably unpredictable storm,” Bloomberg said. “We’ve gotta prepare for the worst case.”
The sanitation department has declared a snow alert and crews are on standby to work around the clock using 365 sanitation plows and spreaders to clear out 6,300 miles of city streets.[cbs-olapic gallery_id=”602473429″][/cbs-olapic]
Trucks are loaded and ready to go with nearly 250,000 tons of salt.
For More Information About NYC’s Preparations For The Storm, Click Here.
The public can track the progress of salt spreading and snow removal using PlowNYC which was created following the 2011 Christmas snowstorm. To track the city’s plowing progress, click here.
Bloomberg said the city hopes to have all streets plowed at least once by mid-morning Saturday.
The mayor issued a severe weather advisory for New York City, which urges the public to avoid unnecessary driving and use public transportation.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said they expect to run trains on a normal afternoon rush hour schedules, but trains may be moved underground depending on the intensity of the storm. Bus service may be curtailed to some extent.
“Stay off the city streets, stay out of your cars and stay in your homes while the worst of this storm is on us,” Bloomberg said. “Cook a meal, stay home, read a good book, watch a movie, just take it easy.”
Vehicles found to be blocking roadways or impeding the ability to plow streets will also be subject to towing at the owner’s expense.
“We don’t want cars getting stuck in the middle of the road that keeps us from plowing and it just — if you pardon the pun — snowballs the problem,” Bloomberg said. “You have to get home safely, but get your car off the street or into the side of the road where it’s parked and that will help everybody.”
After-school activities, including public school athletic league games, have been canceled, Bloomberg said. Saturday classes and activities at public schools have also been canceled.
The Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and Prospect Park Zoo, will close at 1 p.m. Friday and will likely remain closed on Saturday.
The Department of Buildings is reminding property owners and contractors to secure construction sites and buildings. Loose items should be tied down, public areas must be cleared of ice and snow, and electrical equipment should be covered.
Alternate side parking regulations are suspended Friday. Parking meters are in effect Friday but will be suspended Saturday.
The Queens Midtown Tunnel closure planned for this weekend has been canceled because of the approaching storm, the Metropolitan Transit Authority said.
As city agencies prepared for the worst, New Yorkers scrambled to stock up on goods at hardware stores, pharmacies, and food markets. Bottled water has been a top seller, CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported.
Citymeals-on-Wheels has extra volunteers on hand packing and passing out double meals so people have enough food to get through the weekend.
The group has delivered emergency food packages to 17,000 homebound elderly in preparation for the hard winter weather.
But the nonprofit organization cautions food is not enough for elderly neighbors.
“The weather is dangerous for all of us, but they are most vulnerable,” Executive Director Beth Shapiro said. “If you could just check in, make sure their heat is on, if they have a space heater make sure there’s nothing near it and just make sure they’re okay.”
Bloomberg stressed the public use 911 for bona-fide emergencies; regular inquiries should be addressed to 311.
“Let me just remind you, if you have a tree come down and there’s a power line down, don’t go near it. Don’t touch it. Pick up the phone, call 311 and they’ll tell you what to do and we’ll get a professional crew there to remove it,” Bloomberg said. “Power lines are dangerous, and every time we have a storm like this – or many times – we do have tragedies occur.”
The city will have extra highway patrols, ambulances, firefighters and police on the streets.
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