UPDATED 02/05/14 midnight
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A new round of dangerous winter weather was blowing into the Tri-State area early Wednesday, with a threat of dangerous ice that could make the morning commute treacherous.
A winter storm warning went into effect at midnight Tuesday night, and will continue until to 6 p.m. Wednesday for virtually the entire Tri-State Area, with the exception of the south shore of Long Island and eastern Suffolk County where a winter weather advisory has been issued.
CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn reported the storm will begin with heavy snow between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. Between 7 a.m. and lunchtime, the storm will produce its most dangerous precipitation as ice falls.
Anyone who must head out for the morning commute is advised to leave with lots of extra time and go slowly.
Quinn said the snow was likely to amount to 4 to 8 inches in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan, as well as northern New Jersey, southern Connecticut and Westchester County. The majority of Manhattan, as well as Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, all of Long Island and central New Jersey will likely see 2 to 4 inches.
Far to the north in Sullivan, Ulster and Dutchess counties, accumulations of 8 to 12 inches are expected.
Quinn forecast that ice could accumulate in an amount of 0.5 to 0.75 inches in most of the city, Westchester County, southern Connecticut, and northern and central New Jersey. Areas far north of the city, the south shore of Long Island, and southern New Jersey will likely see 0.1 to 0.25 inches.
CHECK: Forecast & Alerts
The city Office of Emergency Management issued a hazardous travel advisory for Wednesday.
“Be ready for a difficult morning commute,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news release. “If you do not need to use your car, don’t use your car. If you can use mass transit, please use mass transit.”
The Department of Sanitation has also issued a snow alert, which started at 10 p.m. Tuesday. That means crews, salt spreaders and plows are getting ready to handle snow removal throughout the city.
On the state level, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned New Yorkers that they should avoid unnecessary travel and exercise extreme caution.
“I urge all New Yorkers to take appropriate steps to prepare for the storm, check on their families and friends, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, and to avoid any unnecessary travel. The best way to stay informed is to pay attention to local media outlets and heed any advice from local professional emergency management personnel,” Cuomo said in a news release.
The state has readied plows and salt for critical roadways, while the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has activated its snow-fighting forces for New York City buses and subways, the Metro-North Railroad, the Long Island Rail Road, and all local bridges and tunnels.
Metro-North will be reducing its morning rush hour service by 18 percent to accommodate the heavy snow expected in Westchester County and the Lower Hudson Valley. Of the 154 usual morning rush trains, 27 will be combined.
Meanwhile, city subway trains will be stored overnight in express subway tracks to protect them from the elements, forcing some express lines to run local. Normal city bus service may be cut by 15 percent depending on conditions, and articulated buses will be taken out of service overnight.
Alternate side parking regulations have also been suspended for Wednesday to facilitate snow removal, the Department of Transportation announced. Payment at parking meters will remain in effect, however.
Con Edison is also warning New Yorkers that the predicted mix of snow and freezing rain could lead to power outages. The utility notes that snow and ice can bring trees and limbs down onto power lines, causing outages. It is also reminding residents to stay away from any downed lines.
“Be aware that if a branch does snap and hit a power line, contact us immediately or your local police department,” Con Ed spokesman Sidney Alvarez told 1010 WINS.
Outages and downed lines can be reported at Con Ed’s website or at 1-800-75-CONED.
Police Out To Protect Roads, Drivers
As CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, police have been taking precautions ahead of time to keep the roads safe. Drivers in Bergen County can expect to be pulled over and ticketed if they fail to clear the snow and ice from their vehicles.
CBS 2 rode along with Bergen County police.
“You have the snow blowing off the roof of vehicles that could blind the drivers’ view that’s traveling behind, or you get a large chunk of ice that blows off the top if a vehicle that comes crashing into your windshield,” warned Bergen County police Officer Justin Garcia.
Shel Dosick knows the dangers from firsthand experience.
“It came from nowhere; out my control. Nothing I could do about it,” said Dosick, of the Upper East Side.
Dosick’s windshield was hit recently on the turnpike, leaving a crack that he has not had time to fix.
“People are just ignorant — not respectful of other people — and that’s frustrating,” Dosick said.
Failing to clear off your car can cost you $25 to $1,500 in fines.
And authorities advise that before hitting the road, drivers should remember that all it takes is a thin and sometimes invisible layer of ice to wreak havoc.
In Atlanta last week, hundreds were stuck for hours on a snowy interstate. AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair said if your car gets stuck, you must make sure it is in a safe spot so you will not get hit.
And if you are trapped inside your car, staying warm is critical.
“You can stay with the vehicle in cold conditions like this if the engine’s still running. You can stay with the vehicle so you can have heat,” Sinclair said. “But if it’s not running, very quickly, that vehicle — which is 95 percent metal can be at the same temperature that the environment is — and these days that’s pretty cold and can be pretty dangerous.”
Drivers were advised to make sure they should have a blanket to keep warm, flares to set off, bottled water to drink, snacks to eat, and a shovel in case they have to dig out.