NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The severity of the season’s first snowstorm caught many people off guard Thursday, causing commuter chaos across the area.

Early Friday morning, drivers woke up in their cars along the Major Deegan Expressway after being stuck behind the wheel overnight.

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“Stuck for nine hours, coming from downtown – from West Side Highway, 19th Street,” driver John Dinoia told CBS2 around 3 a.m.

For many on the West Side of Manhattan, the gridlock Thursday night was beyond their wildest nightmares.

“Six hours,” one woman said. “Tired and hungry.”

Web Extra: NYC Sanitation Commissioner Garcia Defends Storm Response 

It took CBS2’s Mobile 2 unit five hours to get from West 57th Street up the West Side Highway and Henry Hudson Parkway to the 158th Street exit, and we had plenty of company.

“Five hours getting home from the Bronx,” said Lenora Hannah, of Hamilton Heights. “It was a parking lot, a legit parking lot.”

Accidents on the George Washington Bridge were part of the problem. One on the eastbound upper level involved several cars and tractor-trailers. No injuries were reported, but the impact created a severe domino effect.

Watch: CBS2’s Lonnie Quinn Breaks Down What Happened 

Back in the city, heavy snow downed trees, blocking some streets. Fed up drivers wanted to know where the plows were.

“I never heard a plow, I never saw any pre-treat. It was literately a sheet of ice,” Shannon Richards, of Hamilton Heights, said. “The roads were poorly prepared for what we experienced.”

Early Friday morning, Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia told CBS2, “We were very prepared.”

“The challenge we had was cascading impact from what happened on the GWB,” she added. “I think it actually speaks how critical that piece of infrastructure is because one it took the major arteries when people tried to go around.”

In an extended interview later in the morning, Garcia continued to defend the response, saying, “I think the real challenge here – it was going to be a difficult storm, it was at rush hour, it was very heavy, but what really hampered us is when the GWB closed down.”

“We had been doing very well up until that moment, we had been making good progress in terms of getting salt down across the city. I’d actually noted that the Bronx was ahead of the other boroughs, and then everything came to a complete halt and spreaders literally did not move four hours,” she continued.

More: Parents Endure Worried Night As Storm Delays Children’s Return Home

City Comptroller Scott Stringer is demanding answers from the sanitation department.

“In a city that routinely experiences heavy snowfalls each year, there is no reason that six inches of snow should have caused problems as severe as school buses taking more than 10 hours to bring kids home,” he said in a statement Friday. “New Yorkers need a full and complete explanation of what went wrong and how DSNY intends to prevent this from happening again.”

As for public transit and problems with MTA buses, a spokesperson told CBS2, “Our buses were held hostage to massive gridlock citywide. Our bus operators and front-line employees fought through epic traffic and kept the subways moving – and we’re grateful for their dedication during a tremendously difficult commute.”

New York City public schools are open Friday, but the buses were running with some delays. All field-trips requiring yellow buses have been canceled, along with after-school programs, adult education, YABC programs and PSAL activities.

Stick with for the latest commuter alerts, school closings and weather conditions.

Comments (18)
  1. Rick Gudobba says:

    6″ of snow. They have these things called trucks and another thing called plows. 6″, give me a break.

  2. JoJo Wasaman says:

    What do you expect. Stupid liberals are already blaming Trump because of “global warming.”

    1. Funny that the idiotic northern transplants to my home state in the south claim to be expert drivers in wintry weather and complain that we don’t know how to drive. I’m convinced now it’s the same idiots that moved south that cause all of the traffic problems during wintry conditions in the south.

  3. Dan Purcell says:

    The good news is Amazon delivers.

  4. Rick Meyer says:

    I think they have been warning about a noreaster for about a week. I would think that would be enough time for everyone to be prepared to stay off the roads.

  5. Sandra Isrow says:

    I’m sure glad I never ever had to live in place like NYC

  6. Frank Lentsch says:

    But,But, Al Gore says the earth is warming up!

    1. Denise Goodman says:

      Enough with the THOROUGHLY IDIOTIC, UNINFORMED comments insinuating that one snow storm means that Global Warming isn’t real. Global Warming is REAL and happening. And so are snow storms. They are NOT mutually exclusive!

  7. people voted for this, remember that as you wait 9 hours in your car

  8. Christian Martyr says:

    The first natural “disaster” after NY’s Bolshevik Revolution and they are pointing their fingers at each other already. Sic Semper Communista

  9. Carol Mathews says:

    I thought all those sophisticated New Yawkers knew all about snow, and driving in it.

  10. David King says:

    DiBlaso and Sanit. Commish – please explain again how the accidents on the GW bridge “caused” the fact that the two of you had not salted the Belt Parkway and the Van Wyck Expressway from noon to 5pm ? Again, the reason the Belt and Van Wyck had 1-2 inches of snow on them from 2pm-4pm (in 30 degrees! – it’s not like it was 10 or something) is because of a GW Bridge problem?!? I think not. I think rather that tens of thousands of people experienced misery and danger, because you, DeBlasio and Sanit. Commish . . . FAILED to implement routine salting of highways and pre treatment – because you probably “guessed” the storm would be no big deal. – but then why was alternate side suspended as early as Wednesday evening? So people did know. Big fail of leadership here.

  11. HAHAHAHAHA ..they have one job…one of the most heavenly taxed states..cant handle a little snow storm….

  12. Peter Fisher says:

    The problem was the state and local governments were sleeping. This was a normal snow but the state and counties didn’t put any snow plows out where they were needed. The snow started at 1 pm and by 6 pm, no snow plows were out. A small hill, not cleared of snow, backed traffic up for 20 miles. North jersey has lots of little hills and by not clearing those sections of roads , caused traffic to be backed up for many miles. It was ridiculous.

  13. Dana Place says:

    thought everyone in the north knew how to drive in winter weather?!

  14. David Puddy says:

    “The Earth has a Fever” – Al Gore

  15. Don Perry says:

    “Six hours,” one woman said. “Tired and hungry.”

    I’d be a little more concerned about all those people needing to relieve themselves.

  16. Stehr Va says:

    Typical New yorker bitching all the time. It was dangerous and you should not have been on the road and you were warned. On top of that you soiled POSs at least you were in a warm car protected-think about those that were out in the elements. Man you are a bunch of spoiled idiots-but then you are nothing but stupid liberals unable to take care of yourself.

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