Saturday, April 19, 2014

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City Braces for First Snowstorm of the Year

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TWC News: City Braces for First Snowstorm of the Year
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Snow removal equipment is flying off the shelves as New Yorkers brace for the first snowstorm of 2014.

The city could see 3 to 5 inches of snow, beginning Thursday evening and continuing through Friday afternoon.

Light snow is expected during the day Thursday, but heavier snow is expected at night. Temperatures are cold in the 20s and 30s.

The city's Department of Sanitation says it has loaded salt spreaders and attached plows and tire chains to its trucks in anticipation of slick roads.

Officials asked New Yorkers to be patient as they clear the 6,000 miles of city streets.

"The wind is going to be blowing. There's going to be high gusts. We're going to be plowing streets, and no sooner we go through in some areas, snow is going to back over on them because it's going to be a very dry snow," said Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty. "So it's going to take us a while to get this done."

The Department of Transportation announced that alternate side parking is suspended on Thursday and will be suspended on Friday as well. Meters will remain in effect on Friday.

The storm could be the first big test for Mayor Bill de Blasio and his new City Hall administration.

De Blasio said in his Thursday evening briefing that parents should assume that school is open Friday. The mayor said that a decision on whether or not to close schools will be made in the early morning hours.

He also urged New Yorkers to look out for their neighbors and to encourage the city's homeless to go to a shelter.

Wind chills could reach as low as 10 degrees below zero on Friday, and de Blasio warned New Yorkers not to use ovens or stovetops for heat, and to be careful with how space heaters are used.

"We understand why people may be tempted to these for help, but the problem is, these are choices that could lead to much greater problems," de Blasio said. "Another problem is, these specific options could lead to a greater chance of fire, could lead to a greater chance of carbon moxonide poisoning. So we want to make sure that people understand that if you don't have enough heat, please, again, reach out to your building owner or to 311.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a statewide state of emergency due to the storm.

He has ordered that several roads be closed.

As of 5 p.m., Interstate 84 is closed, and at midnight, the Long Island Expressway will be closed between Nassau and Suffolk counties.

The governor said that he hopes that the roads would reopen by 5 a.m. Friday, but that is subject to change.

"I think New Yorkers have learned the hard way that we take Mother Nature very seriously, and this is one of those storms that we should take with the severity that is forecast," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said that drivers should stay off the snow-covered roads in general.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it is in full storm preparation mode, getting heavy equipment ready to keep tracks, switches and third rails at outdoor stations from getting covered in snow.

To keep trains from getting snowed in at rail yards, the MTA says it's storing some underground, which could affect lines with express service.

The MTA says the A train in the Rockaways, the N, B and Q lines in Brooklyn and the 5 train in the Bronx, all lines that are outdoors for a portion, are especially vulnerable to heavy snow.

The MTA also says that Metro-North will reduce their service to hourly service once the PM peak ends at 8 p.m., and they say that they will combine local and express trains with all local service to New Haven and Southeast, as well as to Croton-Harmon.

The agency says it plans to salt platforms at outdoor stations, as well as on any steps exposed to the elements at all 468 subway stations.

Amtrak is running on a modified schedule, and passengers wanting to change their tickets can receive a refund or a voucher for future travel.

Bus service remains normal.

Long Island will see the brunt of the storm, with up to a foot of snow and blizzard conditions.

Parts of Upstate New York could get up to 14 inches of snow.

Commuters at Queensboro Plaza in Queens say they are bracing for a big one.

"If it's miserable and there’s a lot of snow, I will not be here because I can't handle the snow," said one commuter.

"I'm from Upstate New York, so I like the snow, I feel like if you plan your trip ahead, you should be alright," said another.

New Yorkers were out early Thursday to prepare for the snow.

A steady stream of people entered Home Depot in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn to stock up on rock salt, calcium chloride and shovels.

"We have to play it safe and we have to clean the sidewalk, our neighbors will kill us," said shopper Vincent Cutrone.

Bobby Leone, who has a "Mr. Plow" logo on the back of his jacket, said he gets excited when it snows.

"We do it from a dusting 'till two foot so, you know, I'll take it all the time. This is great for us, right after the New Year, take it all the time," said Leone.

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