UPDATED 02/13/13 12:06 a.m.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Another winter storm was working its way into the Tri-State early Thursday.
A winter storm warning went into effect from midnight Wednesday, and will be in place until 6 a.m. Friday for much of the area.
Forecasters say snow is expected to begin falling in the early morning hours and slow the commute into work Thursday.
As CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn reported at 11 p.m., the air mass remained dry in the late night hours and thus, no precipitation was falling. But a storm system that has been sending snow over a vast swath of the country measuring 800 miles end to end will kick in between midnight and 3 a.m. Thursday.
The model numbers for snow totals have all increased in the nighttime hours. The estimates at 11 p.m. called for 6 to 10 inches of snow in the city and its immediate surrounding environs, 3 to 6 inches on Long Island, 8 to 14 inches to the north and west, and 10 to 16 inches for northwest New Jersey, the far north suburbs and much of upstate New York.
The system will begin first with light, fluffy snow, followed by rain, and finally wet flakes. It will not end until between 2 and 4 a.m. Friday.
And the totals could end up being much higher – particularly if the rain comes later, Quinn reported.
New York City public schools will be open as usual on Thursday, but field trips will be canceled, the Mayor’s office announced.
But in advance of the storm, the city has suspended alternate side parking regulations through Saturday, Feb. 15. There is no alternate side parking on Sunday and Monday is a federal holiday.
As a result, NJ TRANSIT announced it will offer systemwide cross-honoring on Thursday and Friday due to the storm.
The New York City Department of Sanitation has issued a snow alert starting at 1 a.m. Thursday, meaning crews and equipment will be ready to handle any snow that falls.
The city Office of Emergency Management also issued a hazardous travel advisory for Thursday and Friday. Officials advised that anyone who must drive should monitor traffic reports to keep track of road conditions, stick to major streets or highways if possible since they will be plowed first, drive slowly, and keep the name and phone number of at least one towing company handy in case of a breakdown.
Pedestrians were advised to exercise caution and avoid slippery surfaces, wear layers including a hat, gloves and a scarf, keep fingertips, earlobes and noses covered outside, and maintain heightened awareness of cars when approaching the road.
“Because of its timing and intensity, this storm is going to make both the morning and evening rush hours extremely difficult. If you do not need to drive, you will help yourself and everyone else by staying off the roads. Take mass transit and leave extra time—it will be slow-going for everyone tomorrow,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news release.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said state officials are also monitoring the weather.
“As we continue to prepare for the Nor’easter that is expected to hit parts of New York State tonight and tomorrow, I urge New Yorkers in the affected regions to consider staying home,” Cuomo said in a news release. “During the storm, snow is projected to accumulate at a rate of two to three inches per hour, which will make it challenging for plow crews to keep roads clear. Drivers should stay off of the roads if at all possible, and exercise extreme caution if they absolutely must travel.”
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will be bringing in extra personnel to work 12-hour shifts at all three New York-area airports in anticipation of the storm.
Spokesman Ron Marsico said the agency has more than 200 pieces of snow removal equipment at its airports. That includes melters that can liquefy up to 500 tons of snow an hour. He said plows can clear snow at 40 mph.
Road crews have also been working overtime to keep streets clear of snow and ice as Mother Nature batters the region with storm after storm.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has also activated snow-fighting forces across its transit system.
The subway plans to operate on a normal weekday schedule for the morning rush, but city bus service may be cut by 20 percent of conditions warrant. The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad are developing service plans, and the LIRR may offer extra afternoon service if the storm worsens in the afternoon.
Preps Under Way In New Jersey, Connecticut
Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has announced the closing of state offices for all non-essential employees on Thursday, and has authorized the state director of emergency management to go on coordinating preparation, response and recovery efforts in advance of the storm.
Christie also said he’s concerned that the type of storm headed for the area may cause power outages, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
“This is also supposed to be a heavy, wet snow, from what we’re being told. So that could also lead to some power outage issues as well,” the governor said. “Tomorrow does not look like a good day.”
The governor postponed a town hall meeting in Middletown Township that was scheduled for Thursday due to the approaching storm.
The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management is closely watching the storm as well.
“We will see conditions deteriorate after midnight tonight,” said Col. Rick Fuentes, state police superintendent and OEM director. “Be especially careful if you are on the road; driving will be difficult. Check in with elderly or disabled relatives, neighbors and friends. Those who live in coastal communities should be aware of the potential for high winds and minor coastal flooding.”
As WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported, the city of Hoboken is offering $5-a-day parking in its municipal garages until 8 p.m. Friday for those with resident parking permits or temporary placards.
Some parking spots on the streets are already taken up by mounds of ice blocks which used to be snow.
The ice situation is similar in nearby Secaucus.
“It’s going to be a nightmare,” Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli told Putney. “When you try to move those blocks of ice with fresh snow hitting the ground, you can anticipate there’s gonna be a lot of damage to trucks and vehicles, a lot of damage to the plows.”
And in Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has ordered a delay for the opening of all state offices until 10 a.m. Thursday. He has also issued a ban on double tractor-trailer trucks, or tandem trucks, on secondary roads beginning at 4 a.m. Thursday.
All Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles road tests have also been canceled for Thursday.
As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported, 50 inches of snow have already fallen in Stamford this winter.
“It’s become so dense and so thick that with the incoming storm, 6 to 10 more inches, we need a place to put that snow,” Tom Deck, the mayor’s spokesman, told Schneidau.
So far, Stamford has used nearly 11,000 tons of salt and they have plenty on hand for this storm, Deck said.
The mayor has urged residents to get their cars off the streets ahead of the coming snowstorm.
In Bridgeport, officials are facing a similar logistical headache.
“We have been stockpiling snow, if you will. We have some bigger open areas, lots where we can pick up the snow in the congested areas and truck it,” Mayor Bill Finch’s spokesperson Elaine Ficarra told Schneidau.
Another weather condition on the minds of many in Connecticut is the predicted ice and the effect it may have on power utilities.
Malloy said at an evening news conference that early maps of the weather coming into the area show icing conditions could be some what less than originally predicted, Schneidau reported.
Estimates show the state could get one-tenth to a third of an inch, according to the governor.
“That’s not a lot of ice. On the other hand, the variable if things happen a different way and you get up to a half inch of ice than you’re talking about many more outages,” Malloy said Wednesday evening.
Power outages, the governor said, that could effect as many as 150,000 customers.
Salt Supplies Run Low across The Area
City officials around Hudson County are keeping a close eye on road salt supplies. While there’s expected to be enough for the coming storm, officials said future storms may pose a problem, Putney reported.
Hot commodities like salt and shovels that are a must in the snow have been hard to come by in the Garden State CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.
The shovel racks at the Home Depot in North Bergen were empty on Wednesday afternoon.
“No shovels, no salt, nothing is what they said,” Al Petschel said.
There were still some shovels left at the Lumber And Home Center in Westfield but they were flying off of the shelves.
The owner of the store said that the phone has been ringing off the hook with people asking for salt and ice melt.
“It is unbelievable. No one can melt their ice. It is all over, it is so dangerous and we can’t get anything. Our suppliers have been out,” Donna Leber said.
In New Jersey overall, the Transportation Department says it has spent close to $70 million clearing the roads this winter. The previous record was $62.5 million last year.
The DOT there has used more than 300,000 tons of salt.
As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, the Garden State is gearing up for its 33rd winter event.
“If this trend continues and there’s just a lot more snow, it’s going to be very difficult and especially with the salt supply,” New Jersey DOT spokesman Joe Dee told WCBS 880’s Monica Miller. “And we’ve got a long ways to go before the end of the winter.”
Jersey City has 325 tons of road salt left for the storm, but it will require three or four times that much to keep the streets clean, 1010 WINS’ John Montone reported.
Crews will be out Wednesday spreading liquid salt brine on main streets, hills and secondary streets ahead of the storm.
The city of Clifton has already used twice as much salt as the previous two winters combined.
“We’re all begging for the supply,” Clifton City Manager Matthew Watkins said.
Snowy roads and ice-clogged rivers mean new shipments are coming slower, so like many municipalities, Clifton is now stretching what’s left of its dwindling piles.
It’s the same story in New York City, where sanitation crews have spread more than 346,000 tons of salt — double what they used all of last winter.
Preparations were also under way with salt running low in Rockland County, As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, Clarkstown Highway Supt. Wayne Ballard was preparing his workers and trucks late Wednesday for a long haul.
“I’m expecting this to be a 30-duration hour storm by the time they go back home again, once I bring them in at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning,” Ballard said.
The plows were lined up and ready to go, but salt in Clarkstown was in short supply.
“This barn should be filled right to the tippy top of the conveyor belt, like an hour glass,” Ballard said.
But the barn was far from filled. The suppliers aren’t getting him and other towns the tons they need. What was left will barely be enough to get this town through this coming storm.
“I’ve been yelling at them, ‘Give me the salt I need just to get me through a storm,’” Ballard said.
Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria he’s not so much worried about the snow as he is about the potential ice.
“As we get some rain during the day, which will be a help, there won’t be as much snow. But once that water starts to get on some of that ice it’s gonna be slicker, when people, particularly when they’re getting in and out of their cars,” the commissioner said.
Unlike other cities and towns, Doherty said he’s not worried about running out of salt.
“We had 137,000 tons on hand and we’re getting more. We’re getting 5,000 to 6,000 tons a day so we’re in good shape,” he said.
And all the extra work is coming at a steep cost.
Mayor de Blasio just added $35 million for wages – including overtime – and salt, D’Auria reported.
On Long Island, the town of Babylon has already blown through its million dollar snow budget by nearly a $100,000, forcing the town to dig into the surplus to pay bills while it works to dig out of Mother Nature’s mess.
Long Lines At Gas Stations, Hardware Stores
The storm also made for lines formed at gas stations around New York and New Jersey.
“In this line, I was almost out of gas and needed gas for the snowblower,” said Joe Irwin.
“I wanted to be prepared with at least with the gas, because you never know,” said Cenaida Gonzalez of Chestnut Ridge, N.J. Big lines — those there are big lines.”
And as CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, many residents said there is no way they can prepare for the storm, with massive amounts of snow next to bare pavements.
“It’s disheartening — that’s for sure,” said Jeff Moy of Cliffside Park, N.J.
Salt and shovels were sold out at hardware shores.
“I’m just looking for a shovel, period,” Moy said.
But he arrived too late to a Home Depot that sold out of the must-have supplies in a matter of minutes.
“We got 10 pallets in last night and it lasted 45 minutes,” said Home Depot manager Pete Ruiz.
In Hawthorne, Dave Dawson had a gas for the generator and snow blower.
“I’m all set, except I wanted more salt,” he said. “There’s no salt anywhere.”
His salt supply was down to a measly quarter of a bag, which would not be enough as his neighborhood in Hawthorne was set to be blasted icy white.
He will shovel more and improvise, like Johanna Cooper, whose plan B involved buying big bags of gravel instead.
“It’s gravel and I have a gravel driveway, and I just spread this on top of the ice and snow, and it gives a lot of traction, and you can walk on it and it’s fine,” said Cooper, of Pleassantville.
There is also a concern about the weight of all this snow and ice. Trees are already weakened by last week’s storm could fall over.
“The trees are top-heavy and they haven’t been thinned out,” Richard Oberlander of Clearview Tree Service told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang. “The limbs break. They can’t take the stress of the snow.”
The snow also poses a risk to homes and buildings with flat roofs.
“I’m worried about the ice underneath,” homeowner Dan Malverne said. “With all the snow we’ve had, there are multiple layers and with more snow, it’s going to be treacherous for us.”
“It’s probably going to leak because it’s going to freeze up and it’s going to back up,” Michael Iannaccone at Homestead Roofing in Ridgewood, N.J. told Putney.
Last week, the snow and ice caused an awning to collapse in front of Duane Reade on 14th Street and may have contributed to a partial roof collapse in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx.
The heavy, wet snow and ice also has the potential to down power lines and road salt can damage underground electrical wiring that could lead to outages.
Area utilities said they are gearing up for the storm and says crews are ready to respond to any outages that may occur.
If trees bring down power lines before crews can get to them, power companies say stay away because they could be live and dangerous wires.
Homeowners are scrambling to make room for a fresh snowfall, but with freezing temperatures, it’s not easy.
“It’s really difficult. It’s packed down now from the snow blower, it’s still left over from the last storm,” said Westfield resident Lani Lipkind. “It’s solid ice. We’re chiseling away at it but it’s tough.”
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