The first Snow Alert of the year went into effect Wednesday night as a powerful nor'easter is intensifying off the East Coast and is slated to create a messy Thursday morning commute.
The storm is expected to drop 4-7 inches of snow on the city. Much of Manhattan is projected to see 4-6 inches of snow. Most parts of Brooklyn and Queens will see 5-8 inches, with NY1's forecast predicting at this time that the two boroughs will see closer to 5 inches of snow.
Staten Island will receive 3-6 inches of snow, according to Wednesday night projections. A blizzard warning is in effect for the eastern part of Long Island.
A Winter Storm Warning is slated to go in effect 1 a.m. Thursday for the five boroughs and will last until midnight Friday.
The snow is projected to begin falling after midnight Thursday. As the storm ramps up, winds will strengthen, causing limited visibilities across the five boroughs.
The city is projected to see the worst snowfall impacts from the nor'easter starting at 8 a.m. Thursday before conditions ease in the afternoon.
Gusty winds will continue Thursday night as the storm pulls away towards New England. Those winds could cause more blowing and drifting of the fresh snow.
New Yorkers will have to contend with icy spots from leftover snow, as temperatures will remain below freezing. High temperatures are expected to top out mainly in the teens and 20s, with overnight temperatures falling into the single-digits at times and wind chills dropping even lower.
The wind chills Friday night and Saturday night could be as low as -10 to -15 degrees, as wind gusts will be, at times, 30 to 40 miles per hour.
New York City public schools will be closed Thursday due to the snow storm, the mayor's office confirmed Wednesday night. Some public and private colleges will be closed, too.
Commuting and transit changes
New Yorkers are urged to be careful when walking outside or traveling, and to give themselves extra time for their morning commute.
1 inch of snow may fall per hour during the Thursday morning commute. The snow should ease by the Thursday evening commute.
The city's Office of Emergency Management and Transportation Department will work hand-in-hand in the cleanup. Salt spreaders will be sent out as soon as the snow sticks to the pavement.
The city transportation department has suspended alternate side parking rules for Thursday. Meters will remain in effect.
Express service on the D, N, and Q subway lines shut down Wednesday night, while B, M, and W train service ended early.
As of Wednesday night, E and F trains are running local in both directions between Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue and Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike.
Northbound 6 express trains are running local from 3 Av-138 Street to Parkchester, the MTA said.
Visit mta.info to see a full list of mass transit changes.
Heating and safety
The city is reminding New Yorkers to call 311 if they see a person living out on the street, as a person can suffer frostbite in 30 minutes.
Also, call 311 or log on to NYC.gov if you have heating complaints. According to the city,
landlords are required to maintain the heat inside at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or above when the temperature is 55 degrees or below outside between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., landlords are required to maintain the heat inside at least 62 degrees Fahrenheit or above, regardless of the temperature outside.
Federal courts in Manhattan, White Plains, and Poughkeepsie will be closed Thursday. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York advises people to contact individual chambers to check on the status of any scheduled proceedings.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has urged travelers to check with their airline carriers before heading to LaGuardia, JFK, or Newark Airports. More than 90 percent of flights at LaGuardia Airport, more than 70 percent of Newark flights, and 20 percent of flights at JFK Airport have been cancelled due to the snow, the Port Authority said Wednesday night.
Amtrak will operate on a modified scheduled between the city and Boston, with fewer Acela Express and Northeast Regional service trains. Contact Amtrak to see a full list of service changes and closures, overall.
New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library branches will be closed Thursday. Items that were scheduled to be returned to the Brooklyn Public Library on Thursday can be returned by Monday, the library system said.
The strongest of the storm is expected to stay over the Atlantic Ocean. By Thursday night, the storm will move away from the city but pull in the arctic winds. High temperatures will be in the teens Friday and Saturday.
Temperatures are expected to rise above freezing next week, with a chance of rain and snow.
Monday was the city's coldest New Year's Day on-record, with temperatures maxing out at 1 degree and wind chills in the negatives.
The nor'easter brought snow as far south as northern Florida on Wednesday, and will create blizzard conditions over portions of New England.
New York is also not the only area that has faced a deep freeze. The cold snap is wreaking havoc across a wide swath of the United States, from South Texas to New England, and even froze the Chicago River.
The dangerously-low temperatures are being blamed for at least nine deaths.
The cold temperatures even forced Disney to close its water parks Tuesday. In Houston, meanwhile, ice formed on bridges and overpasses, leading to multiple crashes on some of the area's major highways.