NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Tri-State Area residents were digging out Friday after a fierce winter storm dumped up to a foot of snow and brought freezing cold temperatures to the region.
Friday night’s forecast calls for clear skies, but bitterly cold temperatures. In Midtown, the low was predicted to hit just 5 degrees. Some suburbs of New York City could see temperatures reach to 3 degrees below zero.
Officials said the wind chill remains a significant factor in how it actually feels outside.
There is a wind chill advisory in effect until 9 a.m. for parts of Connecticut, and New York, including Dutchess, Ulster and Sullivan counties.
Wind chill temperatures are expected to reach between 15 and 24 degrees below zero, bringing a high risk of hypothermia and frostbite for anyone outside for too long, according to the National Weather Service.
As for the snow from that lasted from Thursday night’s into mid-Friday morning, Bedford Park in the Bronx was on record with New York City’s highest snow total — 11.6 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Central Park recorded 6 inches.
WATCH: Full De Blasio Storm Update
“Stay safe, stay warm, stay indoors,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a Friday morning news conference in Queens.
Some parts of Long Island were buried in more than a foot of snow. Bay Shore in Suffolk County received the most snow in the region with 12.5 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
Speaking Friday morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it appeared most people heeded the warning to stay home.
“I think the response has been good all across the state and New York City also. And, again, the proof is in the pudding in a lot of ways,” Cuomo said during a late-morning conference call with reporters. “So I say kudos all around.”
NYC Digs Out As De Blasio Handles First Big Test
The MTA announced Friday that all subway lines will run local service overnight into Saturday morning.
In a statement the agency said the switch from express to local service was so that crews can remove snow and ice from outdoor subway storage yards. In order to allow crews access, subway cars will be stored on the express tracks of underground tunnels.
The storm rolled in just a day after de Blasio was sworn into office. He said he wished his administration had a little bit more time to prepare.
“It would have been nice to have a talk about how to handle a snow storm in the abstract, but that didn’t happen,” he said.
Early Friday morning, de Blasio shoveled the sidewalk outside his Park Slope home.
Wearing a black jacket and gloves, he joked with reporters and demonstrated proper shoveling techniques. He later brought out salt to spread on the walk.
“It’s been an incredible effort and I’m very impressed by what I’m seeing so far,” de Blasio told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang. “I think agencies are all responding really well to the situation.”
De Blasio’s son, Dante, later took a turn at shoveling.
Newly appointed Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina closed all New York City public schools Friday. She made the decision shortly before 5 a.m. After-school programs and PSAL games were also cancelled.
Deputy Schools Chancellor Kathleen Grimm told 1010 WINS that the cold temperature played a factor in deciding to close the schools.
“Usually when it snows, it’s not so cold. So we were very concerned that not only for children at yellow bus stops, but even children who take the regular buses or even walk to school,” Grimm said.
Considering this is the first major snowstorm to cause New York City schools to close this year, Grimm told 1010 WINS that they still have plenty of reserve days and officials have not considered whether or not the day will be made up in the future.
The New York City Office of Emergency Management issued a hazardous travel advisory for Friday, warning that roads would be icy and snow would continue to drift.
“Residents should drive slowly, monitor weather and traffic, use major streets or highways, and keep the name and number of at least one local towing service,” OEM said in a statement.
Alternate side parking regulations will be suspended citywide Saturday to facilitate snow removal.
Outreach teams continued to search city streets for homeless people at risk of freezing to death. The Department of Homeless Services guarantees shelter when temperatures reach 32 degrees or below.
The MTA said Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road were operating on a Saturday schedule on Friday. Both railroads will operate on their regular schedules for Saturday.
Metro-North said the only exception on Saturday is that they will not operate trains marked in its Saturday timetables as “Shoppers’ Specials.”
The agency had “people ready if needed to dig out switches,” said spokeswoman Marjorie Anders. Also, “We have turned on switch heaters, which are like electric blankets for the track.”
Chains were put on city buses so they would not get stuck in drifts.
Buses were experiencing delays earlier Friday due to the snow accumulations and running at about 85 percent capacity, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told WCBS 880. Salt does not work effectively to help melt snow and ice in extreme cold weather.
New York City’s subways seemed to fair better in the storm. “We’re currently seeing good service with some scattered delays,” Ortiz said of subway service.
De Blasio said 2,500 plows were on the streets Friday morning.
“If you don’t need to travel, please don’t travel,” he said. “If you don’t need to use a car, don’t use a car. If you can use mass transit instead, use mass transit.”
The mayor said 100 percent of primary streets and most secondary streets were plowed at least once, but crews will be working 12-hour shifts around the clock until all city streets are fully cleared.
Residents can find out the last time a plow went through their block by heading to the Plow NYC feature on NYC.gov.
City Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty reiterated the mayor’s pleas for residents to stay inside whenever possible, but conceded that not everyone can stay home and urged those who did need to be out to remain cautious and take it slow, 1010 WINS reported.
“They have to be careful. They have to drive a little bit slower. They have to avoid any hilly streets, or steep hills in particular, or don’t go too fast around curves because it will be slippery out there,” Doherty said.
Residents in New York City told 1010 WINS’ John Montone they were pleased with sanitation’s job so far.
One resident even gave the city an A- grade for the storm response, saying the only way the city could get an A would be if someone came to shovel his car out for him, Montone reported.
Despite repeated warnings from the mayor and many city officials to stay inside, residents flocked to parks and hillsides for some fun in the snow, CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported.
“Just wanted to get some fresh air for a half hour, but it’s bitter,” Delphine Borredon said.
“I think he’s (de Blasio) right I certainly don’t want people to freeze and get frost bite and we certainly are not gonna spend too much time here,” Delphine Borredon told Gainer.
With temperatures dropping into the single digits Friday night, frostbite and hypothermia are certainly a real concern.
De Blasio said if residents do go outside, they shouldn’t stay out for long.
“People think sometimes it doesn’t feel so bad but if you stay out there too long it will feel bad and it will be dangerous particularly to folks who are vulnerable.”
The city Parks Department announced a day of snow activities in each of the five boroughs for Saturday.
Sleds will be available to borrow between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday at the five locations. There will be snow angel competitions, music and free hot chocolate.
The locations are Crotona Park in the Bronx, Prospect Park near Ninth Street in Brooklyn, Highbridge Park in Manhattan, Juniper Valley Park in Queens and Clove Lakes Park on Staten Island.
Some Long Island Towns Hit With More Than A Foot Of Snow
Gov. Cuomo ordered three major highways in the state, including the Long Island Expressway, closed overnight.
The Long Island Expressway reopened at 8 a.m. Friday after being closed through the night. It was originally scheduled to reopen at 5 a.m.
“I think it was a very clean cut decision last nigt. I think the facts have proven the intelligence of the decision. You not only had high levels of snow, you had freezing temperatures and you had blowing snow, high winds. The conditions were extraordinarily dangerous,” Cuomo said of his decision to close the highways.
More than a foot of snow fell in some Suffolk County towns which proved difficult for some residents to deal with, CBS 2’s Sonia Moghe reported.
“I broke my back last July, so I’m pretty handicapped right now. So, I can’t shovel,” Dan Cleary said.
Cleary was blown away when he walked outside and saw his neighbors clearing piles of snow from around his home.
The families who came out to help their neighbors said that they couldn’t sit back and watch others struggle.
“Just trying to help out people who can’t get out there and shovel and clean their walks,” Gary Arnold said.
“It’s just the way we were brought up here in Bay Shore. Bay Shore is just that type of town. It takes care of everybody and what our parents did for us it’s time to do for our parents,” Guy Leggio said.
More than a thousand flights have been canceled at all three New York-area airports.
Flights were suspended for a time at John F. Kennedy International Airport due to zero visibility and high winds. Flight operations resumed around 10:30 a.m. and the Port Authority said the first flight of the day took off from JFK shortly before 1 p.m.
Con Ed spokesman Sidney Alvarez said the electric utility was expecting the snowfall to be powdery, rather than wet and heavy.
“But with any type of snow you’re looking at extra weight on branches that can snap and bring power lines down,” Alvarez said.
PSEG Long Island, which just took over responsibility for the island’s electric grid on Wednesday, said the wind would add to the challenge of keeping the power on.
“We’re really worried about the gusts,” said spokesman Paul Rosengren. “When they’re 40-50 mph you have a danger of trees or limbs coming down on the power lines.”
PSEG representative Jeffery Weir told 1010 WINS that the company worked all night to bring power back to any customers who were without it. Weir said the utility went from about 800 outages down to about 44 by Friday morning.
Gov. Cuomo tipped his hat to PSEG, saying the utility performed well during the storm.
“It’s a welcome relief after Long Island had to deal with LIPA for so many years, which, and LIPA’s performance in storm conditions was, let’s just say was less than admirable. So PSEG really did a good job.” the governor said.
Across the region, state and local police were busy responding to accidents and reports of stranded vehicles.
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