NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Snow was moving in during the early morning hours Thursday, bringing blizzard conditions to some areas and a greater amount of snow to New York City than earlier expected.
A winter storm warning is in effect for Suffolk County and parts of southern Connecticut as well as for Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, Ocean and southeastern Burlington County in New Jersey.
A blizzard warning was to take effect in Suffolk, Monmouth and Ocean counties as of 7 a.m. Thursday.
Forecasters say there may be six to 12 inches of snow with as much as a foot possible in some spots and winds gusting as high as 45 mph to 50 mph.
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CBS2’s Lonnie Quinn reported late Wednesday that the storm had tracked 80 mph to shore than previously anticipated. Thus, a winter storm warning has been issued beginning at 1 a.m. Thursday and continuing until 1 a.m. Friday for the five boroughs of New York City, Nassau County, southern Westchester County, parts of northern New Jersey, and all of Connecticut.
Snow totals of 3 to 6 inches remain in effect for most of New York City, but some of eastern Brooklyn and Queens could see the 6- to 12-inch range.
Wind gusts of 35 mph to 45 mph are also expected the affected areas.
Snow is expected to develop between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., with the steadiest snow coming around 8 a.m. The snow will taper by 3 p.m., but the last flakes will not come until 8 p.m.
In the city, the Department of Education has announced that public schools will be closed Thursday.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York will also be closed Thursday. Federal court locations in Manhattan, White Plains and Poughkeepsie will all be closed.
Individual court chambers are to be contacted for the status of any scheduled proceedings.
Just before closing schools for Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged people to take this storm seriously.
“We expect strong winds as well. We’re going to have blizzard like conditions in the morning in New York City,” de Blasio said. “If you can use mass transit as an alternative, that’s better.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Sanitation has issued a snow alert starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, meaning snow equipment will be ready to handle the winter weather.
The Sanitation Department said it will have 2,200 plows on the street at any given time. Late Wednesday, mounds of salt were loaded into plow trucks as the city prepared to try to thaw the streets that would soon be covered in ice and snow.
“We will begin salting as soon as we see first flake,” Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said. “We’re going to preposition tonight ahead of when the storm is, our meteorologists are saying around 3 a.m., but we will well ahead put people in place to make sure that as soon as we start to see snow, we are salting.”
The city’s Emergency Management Department has also issued a hazardous travel advisory for Thursday and said the heaviest snow is expected to fall during the morning commute.
As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, there was a mad dash late Wednesday to get out of the city before the storm – and a switch problem in Secaucus that delayed NJ TRANSIT trains at Penn Station during the afternoon rush did not help.
With the worst of the weather coming during the Thursday morning commute, the Department of Sanitation advised drivers to stay off the streets.
“The high winds and very low temperatures means that we’re going to be operating in near whiteout conditions likely during part of the storm,” Garcia said.
City officials urged commuters to use mass transit, and riders knew their already crowded trains were to be more packed than usual.
“I have work to do, so I may brave it,” said Sam Martens of South Orange, New Jersey.
“Delays, cancellations — the normal,” said Long Island Rail Road commuter Courtney O’Connor.
And you can’t necessarily count on a cab ride Thursday. Some drivers say the conditions aren’t worth the risk.
“I can drive between one and three (inches of snow), but not three and six. I stay home,” said cab driver Jose Mendez. “It’s too dangerous, but usually the city does a pretty good job.”
But even the city is admitting between the snow and extreme cold this week, clearing and de-icing the streets will be a challenge.
“Salt works down to a certain temperature,” Garcia said. “We are adding calcium chloride to extend that, but I would not anticipate blacktop in these conditions.”
Alternate side parking has also been suspended for Thursday and Friday.
Meanwhile, LaGuardia Airport reported that more than 90 percent of its flights for Thursday were canceled ahead of time due to the coming snowstorm.
More than 70 percent of flights at Newark Liberty International Airport, and more than 20 percent of flights at John F. Kennedy International Airport, have also been canceled for Thursday.
Both Delta and United Airlines are allowing travelers to re-book flights.
Delta said it would cancel more than 400 mainline and Delta Connection regional flights on Wednesday and Thursday, primarily at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy international airports, as well as Boston Logan International Airport.
On the ground, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said debris and de-icing trains were ready to go throughout the system, and normal service was expected as conditions warrant.
Amtrak also reported that it is running a modified schedule between New York and Boston on Thursday, with a reduced frequency for Acela Express and Northeast Regional Service. Shuttle service between Springfield, Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut will also operate on a modified schedule.
The full schedule of Keystone Service between Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia/New York, and Empire Service between New York City and Buffalo/Niagara Falls, will run as usual.
The frigid temperatures in our area also continued to cause trouble Wednesday, and heating experts were working around the clock.
“People are not getting heat where they normally do or the frozen pipes start to happen,” said Mike O’Brien with Pteri’s Plumbing & Heating. “It’s been constant.”
Salt was flying off the shelves at the Doody Home Center in Sheepshead Bay.
“Because I’m 84, and I don’t feel like shoveling snow tomorrow,” Sal Colonna said.
One hardware store manager told CBS2 if you absolutely have to drive choose your snow solution wisely.
“Rock salt is a good industrial ice melter, where calcium chloride is good for around the home,” Nina Alcott said.
Just walking outside in the frigid temperatures can be a painful experience.
“I have never felt the cold like I’m feeling it in these last few days,” one man said.
Wind chills Thursday night could be as low as 15 degrees below zero in some spots.