NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — More than 1,500 flights were canceled, many students were sent home early, and the roads were a miserable mess through the night Tuesday as the Tri-State area was pounded with a brutal blast of heavy snow and bitter cold.
The storm dumped more than a foot of snow in many areas and set a record in Central Park — with 7.6 inches in Central Park topping a previous record of 6 inches in 2001.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning in effect until 6 a.m. Wednesday for the five boroughs of New York City, the northern suburbs, all of Long Island, most of New Jersey, and southern and eastern Connecticut.
CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn reported the storm has taken the worst possible track for the Tri-State Area, with the center of the system hovering directly over Manhattan at the peak of the evening rush.
“We are in the bullseye. It is right on top of us,” Quinn said.
Meanwhile, the winds were expected to grow more severe due to air from Canada pushing around the mid-Atlantic and a low-pressure system settling over Montauk, Quinn reported.
The counterclockwise wind around the low-pressure system will result in whiteout blizzard conditions for some.
Some areas saw well over a foot of snow. As of 11 p.m., Manalapan, N.J., had seen 15.5 inches and Englishtown 13.1 inches.
And Suffolk County could see another 2 to 3 inches overnight. More accumulation was also expected in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
The northern end of Central Park at 110th Street saw 10 inches of snow. Midwood, Brooklyn saw 10.5 inches; Great Kills, Staten Island saw 8.6 inches; and in Westchester County, Scarsdale saw 7 incehs and White Plains 6.5, 1010 WINS reported.
On Long Island, Lindenhurst had seen 9 inches, Centerreach 8.5 and Jericho 9.5 as of the 10 p.m. hour.
But Suffolk County could see another 2 to 3 inches overnight. More accumulation was also expected in Monmouth and Ocean counties, Quinn reported.
Totals of 10 inches were seen in Greenwich, Norwalk and New Canaan, Conn.
And overnight, temperatures were dropping to the single digits, with wind chills in the subzero range for all.
Quinn forecast wind chills bottoming out at 0 to minus 15 in the city and areas directly to the west, 5 to minus 5 on eastern Long Island, and minus 10 to minus 20 in the northern suburbs.
At 8 a.m. Wednesday, temperatures were expected to be 7 degrees in New York City, and at the coldest, just 1 degree in Liberty. The high in New York City is only expected to top out at 15 degrees Wednesday.
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Tuesday afternoon for the five boroughs of New York, as well as Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island, and Westchester and Rockland counties to the north. The order deploys additional equipment and personnel to affected areas.
The governor also activated the State Emergency Operations Center to monitor the winter storm.
“This winter storm will bring a one-two punch of snow and extreme cold. I urge all those in the affected regions to exercise caution, and avoid travel if possible,” Cuomo said in a news release. “State resources are deployed to clear snow and help those impacted by the storm, but above all it is important that New Yorkers remain safe both during and after the storm.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also declared a state of emergency due to the snowstorm, allowing the State Director of Emergency Management to activate and coordinate the preparation, response and recovery efforts for the storm with all county and municipal emergency operations and governmental agencies.
“Today’s winter storm is expected to produce heavy snow, dangerous conditions and travel hazards throughout the state,” said Christie in a statement. “I’ve authorized state officials to take all necessary action to prepare, and my Administration will continue monitoring conditions throughout the remainder of the storm. I encourage all New Jerseyans to stay off the roads if possible so that our first responders and public safety officials can safely respond to any emergency situations.”
There had been 238 reported accidents and 354 motorists aided in their patrol areas, New Jersey State Police said.
New York City Public Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced late Tuesday night that schools will be open Wednesday.
But at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio reminded New Yorkers to be safe for the night as temperatures drop.
“Extremely frigid conditions – again, prolonged exposure is dangerous,” de Blasio said. “People should stay home in the maximum event possible. If you need to go out, you should stay out as briefly as possible.”
Meanwhile, Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said the city hopes to make good on its plan to clear most of the main roads by Wednesday morning. But the effort will require plowing through the night, he said.
And NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said some intersections have gone without traffic aides because it simply is not safe due to the slippery conditions.
“We’re actually holding some of them and you can’t use them in certain intersections. It’s too dangerous. I’m sorry,” Bratton said.
After-school programs and PSAL activities were canceled Tuesday.
More than 2,000 sanitation workers were fully mobilized to work around the clock.
The mayor earlier said more than 450 salt spreaders were already out on the roads by midday. As many as 1,700 vehicles can hit the road as conditions warrant, said the mayor.
Trash and recycling collection has been suspended for Tuesday and Wednesday so sanitation crews can focus on snow removal.
PHOTOS: Snow Blankets Area
At John F. Kennedy Airport, flights were not allowed to depart early Tuesday afternoon because of snow and ice. A ground stop was also in effect at LaGuardia Airport. Most flights arriving at and departing from MacArthur Airport on Long Island were canceled Tuesday afternoon.
At the three major area airports, the Port Authority announced more than 1,500 flights were canceled Tuesday afternoon.
Up to 30 percent of flights at all major airports from New York City to Washington, D.C, could be affected.
There were no major delays at the airports — but that was only because most of the flights had been canceled anyway.
Check with your airline before heading out the airport for the most accurate travel information.
The snow made for misery on the roads all around the area. In some cases, commute times tripled — if not more.
As CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, commuting to Long Island from the city Tuesday was simply ugly. Tires spun, struggling to gain traction, and some drivers needed a push on the Long Island Expressway.
“Roads are kind of rough out here,” said Vernon Alonzo of Coram after exiting the expressway. “Pretty nasty out there right now.”
“I drive very slow. I had a very bad experience with weather,” added Andrew Bell of Westbury. “I spun around a couple of times.”
For Robert Sorbi, normal commute times quadrupled.
“I started in Long Island City at 5 and just getting off here now,” he said at 9:30 p.m. Sorbi called his commute a “nightmare.”
Teams of plows did as best they could to stay ahead of the snow. But hours after the storm began, the highway was still buried.
Accidents and spinouts were also frequent.
“As you can see, I just rear-ended a lady by accident. I even hit the emergency brake,” said Mike Humpf of West Babylon. “Brutal.”
State officials decided to keep the roads open, unlike the New Year’s storm when a travel ban was issued for the Long Island Expressway.
But drivers said they paid the price.
“Horrendous,” a woman said. “That’s the best way to describe it – horrendous.”
And in the city, complaints about unplowed streets mounted in many areas of the city Tuesday night, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
“Mayor, if you’re listening, please plow these streets,” said Sonny Budharaja of Harlem.
Budharaja said he drove for three hours around Manhattan Tuesday, stuck in gridlock and navigating through snow filled streets.
CBS 2 found an inch or more of untouched snow on avenues, and snowpack coating several side streets.
“None of the streets have been plowed, like, no matter which way you go, it’s like this everywhere,” he said. “I guess the mayor is focusing more on other boroughs like last time.”
De Blasio emphasized at the news conference that plows were out everywhere.
“I want to emphasize that the combination of the intensifying snow and the fact that it is hitting, of course, as most people’s vehicles have been on the streets, is a tough combination,” de Blasio said. “Sanitation is responding with everything they’ve got.”
But Budharaja said it did not seem that way.
“I’ve never seen anything like this. This is the first time,” he said. “I’ve been living in New York City for 30 years. This is horrendous.”
It was also a long night in New Jersey, from Bergen County to the Jersey Store. As CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, Matthew Narvaez of Hackensack decide to dodge most of the storm by hunkering down at the Garden State Plaza Mall.
“We actually haven’t been out on the roads in a while, because we got here hours ago, so now it will be interesting trying to get home,” he said.
And on the Jersey Shore, Monmouth County Emergency Management deployed more than 100 plows and reduced the speed limit everywhere to 35 mph. But with grid locked traffic and blowing snow those traveling the garden state parkway couldn’t get going faster than 10 mph.
The snowstorm was also blamed for outages to about 1,000 Public Service Electric & Gas customers in New Jersey. As of 9:45 p.m., most of the outages – about 950 – were in the Middlesex County towns of Edison and Highland Park, where a wire was damaged.
By 10:45 p.m., the wire had been repaired and only scattered outages were reported.
And when CBS 2’s Dave Carlin left Queens for Westchester County, the approach to the Whitestone Bridge was closed for snow removal on the Hutchinson Parkway.
Nearby in the Bronx, a moving van towing a car had barely enough room to slip under the low overpasses, including one at Orchard Beach Road.
Exiting the Cross-County parkway in Mount Vernon, an electronic sign had a short and simple message – “take it slow,” But very few people were around to see it.
And in Bronxville, the center of town was picturesque and quiet. Signs of life were spotted at the train station, where drivers were wishing they’d stayed home.
Preparations began long before the storm hit.
A New York City Department of Sanitation snow alert went into effect at 9 a.m. Sanitation workers began filling up 365 salt spreaders, attaching plows to trucks and putting chains on tires Monday in anticipation of the storm.
New York City alternate side parking is suspended Tuesday and Wednesday, but meters will be in effect.
Before the storm even began, the MTA prepared all the railroad and transit systems, and bridges, that it controls. De-icers have been prepared on the New York City subway system, and extra bus drivers and mechanics will be brought in.
Extra engineers and signal maintainers were also sent in to keep the Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road running.
The MTA has urged customers to leave work early and finish traveling early tonight, especially those who use Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road.
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said as the afternoon rush began, the system was largely in good shape.
“So far, things look pretty good on the rails in terms of subways,” Ortiz told CBS 2’s Maurice DuBois and Kristine Johnson. “You know, we’ve got some minor delays, but everything seems to be running pretty well in the subways so far.”
There were weather-related delays on the Metro-North and LIRR, but the commuter transit systems will run on their normal schedules through the evening peak, Ortiz said.
But changed after the rush was over.
The LIRR reduced service on a branch-by-branch basis after 8 p.m., and some trains could be halted before their final destinations.
Service on the Metro-North was also reduced after 8 p.m. A total of 15 trains on the New Haven Line were combined or canceled, and six express lanes from the southeast on the Harlem Line will be combined with local trains to or from North White Plains, making all stops on each train.
Two Harlem Line trains were be canceled.
No changes were planned for the southbound Hudson Line schedule, but on the northbound side, three express or semi-express trains were combined with local trains.
For Wednesday, the MTA said it expected to run close to normal service on the New York City subway system, with express service restored for the morning rush.
City buses are expected to run at 80 to 90 percent of their normal levels, and all articulated and most standard buses will have chains on their tires.
The LIRR will run on a weekend schedule with 60 to 65 percent of the trains that are available on a typical weekday, and the Metro-North will operate at 80 to 85 percent capacity.
LIRR station waiting rooms will remain open around-the-clock through Friday afternoon to accommodate customers waiting for trains during cold and inclement weather.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey beefed up staffing at airports, bridges, tunnels and PATH trains. Crews were out deploying some of the thousands of tons of salt and sand to help keep bridges, tunnels, airport roads and parking lots passable.
Meanwhile, NJ TRANSIT is offering full, systemwide cross-honoring during the storm. The cross-honoring will remain in effect through Wednesday, the agency announced.
As of late in the 6 p.m. hour, all NJ TRANSIT lines except the Atlantic City line were subject to 20- to 30-minute delays.
In Hoboken, drivers were reminded not to park on emergency snow routes labeled with street signs reading, “No Parking When Road Is Snow Covered.” A list of affected roads is available at http://www.hobokennj.org/snow.
Speed was reduced on the New Jersey Turnpike to 45 mph between Interchange 8 and the George Washington Bridge, the Goethals Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing.
In Hazlet, N.J., CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported that the steadily falling snow was slowing things down on Route 36.
Drivers were using caution due to the slick conditions and limited visibility.
“It’s a beautiful but it is a little bit treacherous so you have to make sure you go nice and slow,” one Hazlet resident told Sloan.
The snowfall and slick roads also messed up the bus schedule in Westchester County.
Motorist Jeff, who was driving from Boston to New Jersey, told 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten that the worst stretch of his trip was as he approached the Tappan Zee Bridge. “Off of 684 on to 87, I get on exit 9 it’s about 11 miles to the Tappan Zee. It took about 3 1/2 hours.”
The county says Bee-Line buses were suffering delays of up to an hour by early afternoon. Paratransit vehicles, which serve the disabled, were also running up to 60 minutes behind.
In addition, two Bee-Line routes, in hilly areas of Hastings and Yonkers, were detoured.
Many school districts in Westchester County also decided to release students early – much to the annoyance of parents who had to leave their jobs to make their pickups.
The schools make the midday closures reluctantly and know it is not popular, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.
“It’s very hard to get parents on board with picking up children in the middle of the day,” said White Plains teacher Esta Berman-Price. “That’s’ why the superintendent rarely calls for early dismissal. It’s easier to have a late opening — a two-hour delay — than it is to send the children home.”
But the fear on Tuesday was that waiting would make the trip home too treacherous. One school reportedly waited until the last minute, and as Young reported, one New Rochelle mother was furious.
“I only got a notification to pick up my son at 11:36 in the morning, for a noon dismissal,” said Vanessa Sanchez.
But New Rochelle Acting Superintendent Jeff Korostoff said the decision to close early was made before 10:30 a.m.
In Livingston, N.J., some commuters were sent home early, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
“That was nice. You know I think that was really the smart idea,” said Julie Reines. “People are just trying to be safe. Everyone knows it’s snowing. Everyone knows it’s accumulating.”
In Garden City, Long Island, Roosevelt Field Mall closed early due to the snow. The mall closed at 4:30 p.m., and has not made a decision as to reopening.
In Connecticut, New Canaan’s director of emergency services said the fact that the temperatures will drop into the frigid zone should mean fewer power outages.
“The good news about the power during this type of storm is the snow, because of the cold temperatures, is not very heavy, so hopefully, we won’t experience a great deal of power outages,” Mike Handler told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.
Handler said snowplows are ready, but there’s not much crews can do to prepare the roads because the snow is expected to be light and will blow around easily.
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