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.
Ensuring The Safest Commute Possible
Meanwhile, those on the road are also advised to be sure they are driving properly and safely. As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, the winter weather often has drivers spinning out, slamming brakes, getting hurt.
It is Tim Barrett’s job to steer drivers to safety. As owner of Arrow Auto School, he is on the roads constantly and he sees preventable chaos all too often.
Barrett said the number one winter hazard is ice hiding under snow. Also dangerous is the black ice variety almost impossible to see — but you sure know it when you feel it.
If you are turning the wheel, but your car keeps going straight, that is called a front-wheel skid. Barrett explained us the solution.
He advised whatever you do, do not apply brakes — jamming on them will make it worse. He said you should get your foot off the accelerator, quickly rewind the steering wheel to regain traction, and only when you are in the clear should you gently apply the brakes.
When your back tires lose traction and slide, that is a rear-wheel skid. Barrett also had a fix for that.
The solution, once again, is not to apply the brakes. But this time, you should steer in the same direction as the skid, and if your back wheels are turning left, steer right until you are back in control.
You should also remember that almost all dangerous skidding results from going too fast.
Even ahead of the storm, plows were out in force clearing the streets. But some residents said they weren’t too pleased with the city’s response to Monday’s snow.
(Are the streets unplowed by you? Tell us about it! Snap a shot and upload it to our Facebook page and tell us where it is.)
Some residents on Staten Island said side streets in the West Brighton neighborhood were still packed with snow and ice on Tuesday.
“I haven’t seen a plow this morning, I haven’t heard a plow this morning,” Zulan Henderson said.
“The report card for this snow storm? D without a doubt,” said resident Tom Carrera.
Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted Tuesday that the plowing on Staten Island was not ideal.
“That case on Staten Island is simply not acceptable,” de Blasio said.
The mayor admitted he wasn’t happy with the plowing plan on Staten Island for Monday’s storm, especially on Bard Avenue, which, as CBS 2 showed, remained unplowed most of Monday, and is a primary road to a hospital.
“It was not handled properly, and we’re going to fix it,” de Blasio said.
The problems follow a similar fiasco during a winter storm last month when the Upper East Side was complaining of neglect. Some roads remained a mess 24 hours after the snowstorm while the mayor’s Brooklyn neighborhood had been cleared to blacktop.
“The response to the last storm obviously left something to be desired,” de Blasio said Monday. “We did a review of our efforts and we’ve come up with some initial changes that we actually were able to implement right away to improve the snow clearing operations and the response to the storm this time.”
But some New Yorkers say even more must be done.
“If it’s more than 4, 5 inches, you’re pretty much not getting out,” said Jason Lemole of West Brighton. “You might as well leave your car there.”
New Yorkers can use the plow tracker to see the status of snow removal in their neighborhoods at nyc.gov/severeweather.
Working From Home
As WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reported, many employees have been working from home because of the snowy winter.
Most work can be done anywhere thanks to laptops and smartphones, but it’s up to the boss to decide who works from home and how they do it, Murnane reported.
Experts said without a set policy, workers who come in to the office in bad weather may come to resent those allowed to work from home.
“Are your kids sitting in the same room that you’re in doing work? Why would we expect our employees to be as productive at home? Maybe the goal is to get something out of your employees on these days when they can’t safely get to and from the office,” said David Lewis of OperationsInc., a Norwalk-based HR firm.
Lewis said it’s important to take care of the employees who routinely come into the office with time off down the road or even lunch on the boss.
“People are paralyzed by looking out the window and seeing the snow pile up combined with a lack of communication. So one of the key things I always emphasize for our clients is just tell your employees what you’re thinking as early as possible,” said Lewis.
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