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Snowstorm Makes Mess Of Roads, Causes Power Woes In Westchester, Rockland

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York City’s northern suburbs are again facing a major winter storm.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties through 6 a.m. Friday.

Up to 16 inches of snow could fall on parts of Putnam and Rockland counties. Northern Westchester could see up to 20 inches of snow when it’s all over.

As of midday Thursday, the NWS reported as much as 10.5 inches of snow in Harrison in Westchester and 11 inches in New City, Rockland County.

As a result of the higher than anticipated snow totals, the evening commute on Metro-North Railroad will be impacted.

“We are going to switch to hourly service at 4 p.m. so I’m advising people to travel sooner rather than later,” Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders told WCBS 880 on Thursday afternoon. “The railroad received an extra heavy snow dump and it well exceeded the forecast so there have been some operating difficulties and we have done some combined trains.”

The snow began falling early and was fast and furious for a few hours.

“This is going to be one of those very long days into tomorrow and so the crews need to take their breaks. They’re going to be out plowing continuously for a long time,” Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino told WCBS 880 on Thursday morning. “I’m concerned about the length of this storm, it’s not going to be a break and it’s going to switch, it’s gonna go from snow to freezing rain to ice and all that bad stuff.”

And as CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, it was no fun driving on the Hutchinson River Parkway late Thursday morning. Only one lane was plowed, and there was little traffic.

Meanwhile, Con Edison crews were out restoring power on Weaver Street in Larchmont, where the heavy snow took down tree limbs.

“I think it’s horrible. I’m done,” said Debbie Puccilla of Harrison. “I’m done with the winter.”

In the village of Harrison, where plows were also in action, motorists found the side streets a bit of a challenge. And even the private plow operators, who were cashing in on this weather, have had their fill.

“I can’t wait for winter to be over – it’s every day out there,” said plow operator Matias Alves.

There were snow blowers and of course, hand-to-hand combat. Henry Mohr, 65, decided to bite the bullet and shovel.

“It keeps you young,” he said.

Meanwhile in Rockland County, some residents had to drive through blizzard conditions. Two New City bank employees were released from work early and had to brush off their snow-swamped vehicles during whiteout conditions.

Lance Gilden told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello he was not looking forward to getting behind the wheel.
“The only people that should be out here are the people cleaning up the roads to make them safe,” he said. “Nobody should be out here.”

And in fact, very few people were out on Thursday. The roads in Rockland County were virtually empty and more than half of local stores stayed closed.

The situation was frustrating for florist Pete Conway, who normally has booming business on the day before Valentine’s Day.

“There would be a line out the door, almost halfway down the end of the block here,” Conway said.

Conway has a walk-in cooler full of flowers, and just hopes they can be delivered on Friday.

But that all depends on whether the roads can be plowed effectively. Brian Lillo spent hours at the wheel of a Clarkston snow plow Thursday, trying to scrape all the white off the blacktop.

“The snow has nowhere to go,” he said. “It has nowhere to go, and it’s really an art to try and keep the roads open.”

Most schools in the three counties were also closed Thursday due to the snow.

CHECK: Winter Storm Warnings | Radar | School Closings | Airport Delays | Traffic & Transit

Private and public schools and colleges were closed Thursday.

“I think every school in Westchester is closed today. They did that last night,” Astorino told WCBS 880. “So that was good preparation.”

Rockland Salt Shortage

In Clarkstown, officials are dealing with a salt shortage for this latest snowstorm.

The last shipment came in “two days ago, it was 40 ton. I need 300 ton to do the town with one round,” Clarkstown Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard told WCBS 880′s Sean Adams.

Ballard said he’s been pleading with his supplier because he’s concerned he may run out of salt by Friday morning. If that happens, Ballard said they have a contingency plan in place.

“We will only concentrate on our mains and we’ll have to let our secondary roads go and if need be, we’ll apply some sand to the top of the hard packs so people can get around,” Ballard told Adams.

The highway superintendent said his calls to the supplier have gone unanswered at times, despite the storm.

“I think there needs to be an investigation, honestly. This should never happen. Public safety is at risk. People need to get to their jobs. The economical impact beyond safety is going to be another detrimental thing because businesses aren’t going to be able to open,” Ballard said.

“We’re in good shape at the county level for salt. We always help our brother and sister towns, it’s as simple as that. So whatever we need to do to make sure the people of Rockland are served in any way, shape or form, we will do,” Day told Aiello Thursday morning.

Mass Transit Impacted

At the New Rochelle Metro-North station, trains were running on time as of Thursday morning, CBS 2′s Lou Young reported.

The Bee-Line bus system is running with a 45-minute delay and will be suspended as of 7 p.m. at least through the night.

In Rockland, TOR and TZx bus service was suspended until further notice at 11:15 a.m. The buses were running with delays as of Thursday morning.

TRIPS service has been canceled for the day.

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