UPDATED 01/24/16 12:23 a.m.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Snow totals early Sunday morning were a hair away from hitting a new record — with the measurement as of midnight falling short by a fraction of an inch.
The snow dumped on the city by the blizzard on Saturday was about the equivalent of what falls in an entire winter season, which totals 26 inches, CBS2 reported.
The National Weather Service said the midnight Saturday morning reading came in at 26.8 inches in Central Park. If it stands, it will be the second highest total since records have been kept in 1869.
The current record is just 0.1 inches higher. A record of 26.9 inches dates back to February 2006, CBS2’s Lonnie Quinn reported.
The highest total in the Tri-State Area was seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where the total topped out at 27.7 inches as of 9:30 p.m. Staten Island saw 27.1 inches, and Fort Greene, Brooklyn saw 18.5 inches.
Three deaths in New York City were linked to the blizzard on Saturday – two in Staten Island and one in Queens. Further details were not immediately available.
Meanwhile, until 7 a.m. Sunday, all New York City roads — as well as all Port Authority bridges and tunnels — were to remain shut down to non-emergency motorists.
Those who are caught on a banned road will receive a summons with the possibility of points on their license and a fine, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned. Arrests are also possible.
The travel ban was originally expected to continue until midnight, but Mayor Bill de Blasio said late Saturday afternoon that it will continue into the early morning hours. Cuomo announced Saturday night that the ban would be lifted at 7 a.m. Sunday, so as to provide ample time for crews to clear the roads after the snow slowed down.
Additionally, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad suspended service beginning at 4 p.m. The MTA also suspended service on all above-ground stretches of the subway, also beginning at 4 p.m.
MTA bus service was suspended beginning at noon on Saturday due to the deteriorating conditions. Bus service will also resume at 7 a.m.
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said Saturday afternoon that deicers, jet blowers and other snow-fighting equipment would be in use on the elevated subways while they are closed.
“It’s all about safety. We will provide service for our customers as long as it’s safe to do so,” Ortiz said.
Underground subways remained in service late Saturday, but the Staten Island Railroad was also out of service, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.
NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill said as of 5:30 p.m., there had been 343 cars towed by the NYPD, and 312 accidents. There had also been three deaths reported from shoveling snow – one on Staten Island and two in Queens.
O’Neill and de Blasio advised that people should not overexert themselves while shoveling snow, and should ask or hire others to do it if necessary.
Speaking to reporters late Saturday afternoon, the mayor said snow-fighting crews from the Department of Sanitation were working as hard as possible and were doing an “extraordinary” job.
“The precipitation keeps coming down. They keep plowing. But the rate of this snowstorm continues to be intense – between 1 and 3 inches per hour depending on where you are in the city,” de Blasio said.
The mayor advised that everyone should be at home.
“The smart thing to do is to get away from any place that you’re at work; at home from work,” de Blasio said, “If you’re out for any reason doing errands, get home. Get home, get safe.”
De Blasio: Workers Needed To Get Home
De Blasio also advised that businesses should close for the day – so that employees do not run the risk of being left stranded with no buses and no elevated subway service. The violent storm and travel ban has already forced the cancellation of all Broadway shows, both matinees and evening performances, on Saturday.
Broadway theaters had planned to go ahead with 3 p.m. matinees, but de Blasio said safety was more important.
“It’s not just about the folks that go to the theater, and the folks who go to restaurants,” de Blasio told CBS2’s Dick Brennan and Cindy Hsu. “It’s about everyone who works here, and if you keep them here, how are they going to get home?”
Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, which represents producers, said normal operations are expected to resume for Sunday matinees.
The last time Broadway took a big weather hit was Superstorm Sandy in 2012. It darkened Broadway for four days and cost more than $8.5 million in lost revenue.
De Blasio said it was too soon to determine how soon it will be before things get back to normal for the city, or whether New York City public schools will be in session on Monday.
He said if the snow tapers off by the late evening there is a good chance of a strong recovery on Sunday, and everything should be back in action by Monday. But if the worst case scenario prevails, it may be a different story.
“If it goes up to 30 inches, there’s a good chance a lot will be disrupted Monday,” he said.
There had been concern about falling tree limbs in city parks, but de Blasio said it has not been a major issue.
But the snow did not stop people from venturing out on the Upper West Side, CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported. Many took advantage of the travel ban to walk and even play in the middle of the street, while the usual traffic jams were nonexistent.
With no cars, it meant mostly open roads for both emergency vehicles and snow plows working all night to serve the city.
People who spoke to CBS2 said even without any real plans on Saturday, they had to go out to witness the historic storm.
“I haven’t done anything yet; I was home all day,” said Robert Nieves of the Upper West Side. “Just have to embrace that moment.”
“Oh my gosh – it’s craziness, isn’t it?” said Shaynee Rainbolt of the Upper West Side. “We love it. We’re lucky — we don’t have to shovel it.”
Late Saturday, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined CBS2’s Elise Finch in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and said he was pleased with the plowing efforts. He said it was best for everyone that people stayed off the roads.
“First, the roads are now clear. Tomorrow, when people go out – if they have to go to the supermarket or visit someone – they’ll be able to get out – once they shovel their cars out, that’s the biggest problem. But second, tonight, and during the day, people were enjoying the roads, and you could walk down Seventh Avenue… and not be worried.”
Schumer took a jab his U.S. Senate colleague Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a Republican presidential candidate who has castigated “New York values” as being out of line with conservative American values.
“Tell Ted Cruz we’re New Yorkers. The snow didn’t stop anyone. People were snow-skiing, bringing their dogs, sledding with their kids. It brings back fond memories from when I took my kids there,” Schumer said.
But some Staten Island residents complained that the city failed to plow their neighborhood streets.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, residential streets were covered with piles of snow along Marx Street in Castleton Corners. Snow would have been piled up on the sides of a plowed street, but instead, it was sitting in the middle.
An ambulance also became stuck in the snow in the Etingville section of Staten Island. Ariana Induddi of Etingville reported that streets had not been plowed in the neighborhood since the afternoon, and neighbors had to help shovel the ambulance out to get to its destination.
Blizzard Warning Ends For New York City
A blizzard warning was called off around 11:30 p.m. for New York City, but remained in effect until 7 a.m. Sunday for Long Island, most of New Jersey as well as parts of coastal Connecticut.
The storm was officially declared a blizzard just before 9 a.m. Saturday after three hours of sustained winds and less than a quarter-mile of visibility.
Cuomo declared a state of emergency for New York Saturday morning.
“There is no reason to be on the roads today unless it is a real emergency,” Cuomo told CBS2. “I don’t care how tough we are as New Yorkers, I don’t care how big the four-wheel drive vehicle, the roads are really dangerous and it’s only going to get worse.”
De Blasio issued a Winter Weather Emergency Declaration that was in effect until midnight.
Alternate side parking was canceled for Saturday, and will also be canceled Monday to help with snow removal, de Blasio said.
Recreational activity in New York was virtually called off for the day on Saturday. In addition to the cancellation of the Broadway shows, a Rita Moreno concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center was also canceled.
The storm didn’t stop the inaugural three-day BroadwayCon, sort of like a Comic Con for thespians, at a Midtown hotel.
As 1010 WINS’ Lee Harris reported, the storm also did not stop many New Yorkers in Manhattan from going in to work, including Patrick who was working a snowblower on the sidewalk outside of an apartment building near Columbus Circle.
“Hour of work, hour of no work, hour of work, hour of no work — and there’s really no signs of when it’s going to stop,” he said.
And until it does and that sidewalk is clear, Patrick said he will be there.
And before the travel ban was enacted, conditions were dangerous on the roads. A driver lost control of his car on Katonah Avenue in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx, and the car slid and slammed into a couple of parked cars.
The driver did get out, looked at the damage, and then drove away, CBS2 reported. No one was hurt.
Elsewhere in the Bronx earlier in the day, many drivers had to pull off road to clear off their windshields, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.
Come 7 a.m. Sunday, they will be able to dig out their cars and take to the roads again.