Thursday, December 25, 2014

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Snowfall Continues As New Yorkers Prepare For Messy Commute

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TWC News: Winter Storm Watch In Effect For Sunday
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New York City was a winter wonderland Sunday night, but it's going to make for a difficult time Monday morning.

New York City residents are steeling themselves for a wintry morning commute as snowfall inched past the 10" mark Sunday night on its way toward an expected 15" of accumulation.

The winter's first blizzard closed JFK Airport on Sunday and is poised to disrupt the Monday morning commute as snow continues to fall on the New York City area.

As of Sunday night the city had received 7 to 10 inches of snow according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters are predicting the storm will dump a total of 10 to 15 inches by the time it ends on Monday.

NY1 meteorologist John Davitt says the heavy snowfall will continue through 5 a.m. Monday. Strong winds gusts up to 50 to 60 mph will create blowing and drifting snow and make travel treacherous.

The area's airports, the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North and the city's subway and bus system all reported varying degrees of operation as of early Monday morning.

About 200 straphangers had to be evacuated when a Q train got stuck in Brooklyn.

ConEd officials said nearly 4,000 Queens customers lost power during the storm, as did a handful of customers in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

Thousands of city workers ended their holiday breaks early Sunday to prepare the five boroughs for the wintry weather.

At a press conference on Sunday afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged New Yorkers to use mass transit and to set aside extra time if they are headed home on the roads.

"The latest weather reports are qualifying this storm as a blizzard, and unfortunately our city is directly in the path," said the mayor. "The meteorologists at the National Weather Service are telling us that we may see up to 16 inches of snow, as well as gale force winds that could reach up to 55 mph."

The mayor also said that the city Department of Homeless Services was holding its Code Blue Cold Weather Emergency Procedure Sunday night, and the city shelters would forgo the usual intake process to get people off the streets.

Department of Sanitation officials were encouraging people to stay off city roads, due to poor visibility and possible interference with their work.

"Tonight, there's going to be whiteouts. Anybody who's driving, visibility is going to be very, very limited, with the wind and the snow coming down. We really request people to leave their cars at home, stay where you are, don't be driving tonight. It's going to be very dangerous, and we need to stay out there to try to get the streets cleaned up," said Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty.

There is no need to move cars during the storm, as meter rules were suspended Sunday and alternate side of the street parking was suspended through Monday.

Sanitation crews, including 365 salt spreaders and more than 1,700 snow plows, are cleaning the streets. All 4,800 sanitation workers will be out in full force, working two 12-hour shifts to take on the snowy and icy streets.

The DOS clean-up efforts costs millions for each storm, but officials say it will help emergency vehicles get around the city and other vital services in the five boroughs.

"It is expensive, but when a snow storm is in New York City, we can't look at the expense. We have to go out and get the roadways cleared," said Doherty. "New York is a city that doesn't sleep. It's a very busy city, Monday morning people will be looking to get about, but thank goodness there's no school tomorrow, so that cuts down on some of it."

Recycling and trash collection has also been suspended citywide to facilitate the clearing of the streets.

DOS officials are also looking for private companies to provide extra heavy duty equipment to assist in ice and snow removal.

Equipment would be used starting at 7 a.m. Monday to help clear essential roads.

The city is looking for licensed operators of front-end loaders, bobcats, excavators, dump trucks, tractor trailers, and more.

If your company is interested, call the city's hotline at 311 for more information.

DOS officials also want New Yorkers' help in salting and shoveling out sidewalks.

In that spirit, many city residents flocked to hardware stores Sunday morning to buy salt, shovels, snow blowers and other supplies.

At the Home Depot in Park Hill on Staten Island, a store manager told NY1 that 400 shovels were snatched up within the first hour.

Meanwhile, more than 1,400 flights in and out of local airports were cancelled.

The Port Authority suggested travelers check with their carriers before they head out.

"We don't want people going to the airport and having to spend days at the airport waiting for a flight to open up," said Steve Coleman of the Port Authority. "So it's better to stay where you happen to be, whether it's a private home or a hotel. All the airlines make the accommodations you can make and stay put wherever you happen to be today."

Most carriers were waiving fees they normally charged for one-time changes in affected areas.

On the lighter side, the mayor said that Broadway shows continued performing Sunday night and that theatergoers were advised to take mass transit.

He also noted that the city Parks Department will hold offer free hot chocolate and sleds in one spot in each borough.

By 7 a.m. Monday, snowfall will be lighter, but wind gusts could continue through Monday afternoon. Temperatures will peak near 30 degrees on Monday.

Sunny conditions are expected to return Tuesday and Wednesday, and temperatures by the end of the week will reach the low 50s.

Monday Is Snow Day In City Parks

Between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, the city Parks Department is providing free, supervised sledding, snowman building contests, friendly snowball fights, music, winter walks, nature activities and hot chocolate at the following five locations:

Bronx: Crotona Park ~ Fulton Avenue and East 172nd Street

Brooklyn: Prospect Park ~ near the Tennis House

Manhattan: Riverside Park ~ Riverside Drive at 103rd Street

Queens: Juniper Valley Park ~ 78th Street and Juniper Valley North

Staten Island: Clove Lakes Park ~ Martling and Slosson Avenues

Blizzard Photo Gallery

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