NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Snow blanketed much of the Tri-State area Tuesday, resulting in school closures, messy morning commutes and a concern for icy roads as temperatures drop below freezing heading into Wednesday.
Two to four inches of snow fell on most of the metro area Tuesday. The overnight forecast called for a low temperature in the 20s, meaning wet roads would turn to dangerous ice before commuters head to work Wednesday morning.
CBS 2 meteorologist Lonnie Quinn said, with the wind-chill factor, it could feel as though it as cold as 5 degrees in and around the city.
Snow Slows Motorists
The snow slowed drivers throughout the Tri-State area Tuesday.
One Westchester County resident told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones it felt like people forgot how to drive.
“It’s fairly icy out there,” driver Billy Gialella told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown. “It’s very bad.”
“You have to respect the weather because the weather is going to win,” said cab driver Richard Groen. “But I’m a veteran New Yorker — born here, raised here, lived here. I’ve made snowmen on Broadway in the middle of the day.”
Road crews treated surfaces with salt.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who activated the State Emergency Operations Center Tuesday, said hundreds of snow plows were deployed across the state, including 215 in the Hudson Valley and 190 on Long Island.
The governor asked drivers to be patient during ice and snow removal operations and said motorists should be wary of black ice and schedule extra time for travel.
“I urge drivers to be ready to encounter snow, ice and slush on the roadways and to use caution,” he said in a statement.
In the city, Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said hundreds of salt spreaders are out on the roads and extra crews are on hand if needed.
“We’ll be going through the night and into tomorrow and possibly through the day tomorrow to continue to address any icy conditions we find around the city,” Doherty said. “I think we’ll get through the day well.”
DSNY has 365 salt spreaders out right now. Refuse/recycling pickups delayed pending snow operations. ASP suspended today. Drive carefully.
— NYC Sanitation (@NYCSanitation) December 10, 2013
A convoy of sanitation trucks left from the Gansevoort Garage around midday to keep the roads clear and safe, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
“Currently, we have about 365 of our large salt spreaders out on the streets salting where necessary and a lot of small ones in the secondary and tertiary streets,” Doherty said.
Sanitation workers are on 12-hour shifts, Haskell reported.
New Yorkers can now also track city snow plows as they make their way throughout the city.
The Department of Sanitation’s snow vehicle tracker lets you see the progress of snow removal in your neighborhood. To check out New York City’s plow tracker, click here.
The Department of Transportation suspended alternate side parking citywide to facilitate snow removal. Payment at parking meters remained in effect.
The DOT also said it relocated Citi Bikes from major streets so that the street stations can be shoveled promptly.
The agency said if weather conditions make biking unsafe, the stations may be temporarily locked down. It said they will be reopened as soon as conditions allow.
Bike lanes will be plowed by the city, according to transportation officials.
NYC Bike Share, which runs the bike program, says red snow flags will be placed to mark the street stations for snow plow operators.
Heavy snow started falling in the Garden State at the height of the morning commute and many drivers said they had to get re-acclimated to driving in the snow.
“Brought the truck in,” a woman told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “I thought maybe that would protect me.”
There was a 45 mph speed restriction on the New Jersey Turnpike in both directions from the George Washington Bridge to the Delaware Memorial bridge.
“You’ve got to take it slow, realize that it’s snow,” one driver told 1010 WINS’ John Montone.
The speed limit was also lowered to 45 mph on the Garden State Parkway from Hazlet to Cape May and 35 mph from Hazlet to the New York state line.
In Westfield, about three inches of wet, slushy snow fell by Tuesday evening, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.
“The roads were quite slippery. The main problem is people don’t slow down, they spin out,” snowplow driver Bruce Howardson told Sloan.
An overturned gravel truck on the eastbound side of Route 78 near exit 54 in Hillside caused several miles of delays heading into the peak of the evening rush hour commute.
Meanwhile, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider said it was slow-going in Morristown as drivers take extra caution while navigating their way home.
NJ TRANSIT is also cross-honoring bus and rail tickets systemwide throughout the day.
In Conn., state police said more than 80 crashes were reported by late Tuesday morning, including eight with minor injuries.
Troopers said roads are still slippery in some places and they advised motorists to slow down and put their headlights on.
Snow Prompts School Closures
Dozens of schools across the Tri-State area were closed because of the wintry weather.
Many students were excited for their first snow day of the year.
“I just rolled over and went back to sleep,” middle school student Sean Nicholson told CBS 2’s Lou Young.
“It’s like Christmas,” said middle school student Robert McGovern.
But having the day off from school isn’t always the best thing for parents.
“If I was full-time, I would’ve had a hard time,” parent Margaret Cordanelli said “Yesterday was a delay, so it’s one thing on top of another.”
While many school districts closed before classes started, some sent students home early.
However as the day wore on and the snowfall slowed, some parents said it seemed like a false alarm.
“There’s not that much snow. I think we probably would have been OK having school today, but that’s not necessarily my call,” one parent told Young.
Other schools, including the New Rochelle and Mamaroneck school districts, decided to call the storm’s bluff and went ahead with a full day of classes. Many of the districts that did stay open also canceled after school activities.
‘The Big Test’
On Long Island, some residents said bad memories of last season’s big snow storm were on their minds.
As WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported, Brookhaven residents said they were hopeful one year after they found themselves stranded in a town unprepared for winter.
Since that blizzard was mishandled, the town has gotten a new highway superintendent and a $2 million upgrade to snow removal and communications equipment.
“Time will tell. It’s the big test. I mean, if they don’t then come November, we vote everybody out. That’s all there is to it,” a Brookhaven homeowner told Xirinachs. “I’m hoping they do the right thing. The amount of taxes we pay out here on the island, it’s ridiculous.”
Last year, the town was caught unprepared by a monster snowstorm. That, coupled with equipment breakdowns, left residents stranded. Some streets went unplowed for weeks.
Residents said with all the changes, they were hopeful that won’t happen again.
“It was horrible last year. We were stuck in the house for three days — couldn’t go to work. We pay high taxes around Long Island and they really need to step it up and take care of the roads,” Brookhaven homeowner Dina Sebor told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
This latest snowfall was small in comparison to last year’s blizzard, but plows were out and roadways were sanded and salted across the Town of Brookhaven.
“Coming into this position there was obviously going to be a lot of focus on our emergency preparedness, disaster recovery capabilities, and I spent the last eight months making sure this department can not only respond to small events like this, but anything that Mother Nature throws at us,” Town of Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said.
Holiday Shopping In The Snow
With only two weeks to go until Christmas, the snow didn’t stop some steadfast shoppers from hitting area stores.
Jeanette Ciccone told CBS 2’s Don Champion she wasn’t deterred by the weather. “I have four-wheel drive so I’m ready to go.”
While some may have braved the slick roadways in order to make a dent in their gift list, experts said the snow definitely cuts business for retailers during this critical time of year, Champion reported.
According to Evan Gold, who studies the impact of weather on shopping, winter weather can change what people choose to buy — moving from gifts to shovels, boots and other “need based” items.
As for shoppers, Gold said the weather could also lead to deeper deals closer to the holiday. “Any type of traffic limiting weather will typically lead for businesses to try to do something else to get the customer to make that purchase.”
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