Snow blanketed the tri-state area today and many more inches of it were expected to fall this evening as blizzard warnings remained in effect throughout the region, prompting the closure of schools and cancellation of most flights out of the area.
NYC public schools will, however, be open on Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg said. Check other school closures.
"Sorry about that to all those who wanted a day off," Bloomberg said in a press conference late Wednesday, adding that after-school programs in city schools will also resume tomorrow.
The mayor also made a plea for blood donations, as the city's bloodbanks were hit hard by people staying home during the storm. Bloomberg also said the city was working overtime to clear streets and major thoroughfares by Thursday morning. The Department of Sanitation deployed about 1,600 plows, and 2,100 workers were on 12-hour shifts.
Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty asked New Yorkers to be patient for another day in dealing with piles of snow at street corners and bus stops.
"For people that are walking, it's going to be very sloppy," Doherty said. "That's going to take a little while."
The massive snowstorm confounded the morning commute for travelers in the tri-state area. Most flights out of LaGuardia were canceled by 10 a.m. and Continental canceled flights out of Newark International Airport and JetBlue suspended the majority of all operations in and out of JFK, LGA, White Plains and Newark airports. Amtrak reported limited service into the city and NJ Transit canceled all service after 7 p.m., but was expected to be up and running again by 4:30 a.m. Thursday.
The blizzard warning, which the National Weather Service issued early Wednesday, is in effect until early Thursday morning, and wind gusts of up to 40 mph are expected. Forecasters say the storm could dump about 10 to 16 inches in the New York metro area. New Jersey could get between 12" to 18".
Around the region several locations were reporting snow totals of a foot of over a foot. Kingwood, N.J. was the big winner by 11 p.m., with 18 inches having fell, while Westfield, NJ got 17.5. Floral Park, Long Island racked up 14.6 inches. Ridgewood and Tenafly, N.J as well as the Bronx all reported 12.5 inches by Wednesday evening, while Millburn in Essex County reported 14.2 inches. Fanwood in Union county had over 16 inches. Bayside in Queens reported 12 inches, but LaGuardia and JFK both only had about 8 inches at 7 p.m.
The south shores of Long Island and New Jersey were expected to get up to 15 inches by the time the flakes stopped falling.
The heavy snow of the storm knocked out power to about 11,000 PSE&G customers in New Jersey, with most of those being in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Mercer counties. Con Ed reported under 500 customers without electricity in the five boroughs, and Connecticut utilities said only a few dozen homes were without power.
It was the projected size of the storm that prompted the city to make the preemptive school closures on Tuesday. There are about 1.1 million students in the public school system. Snow days are rare. The last two were on March 2, 2009 and Jan. 28, 2004. The New York Archdiocese also canceled school for their schools in Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island.
The storm also forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights, and it closed most of the region's courts, the United Nations, and the Bronx Zoo and other Wildlife Conservation Society parks. A Thursday event with penguins at the Central Park Zoo was postponed.
Many people stayed home from work — Metro-North Railroad reported that from 6:15 a.m. to 10 a.m., it carried 43,000 customers into Grand Central, down 39 percent from a normal weekday. The Long Island Rail Road parking lot in Farmingdale was only about half-full by the end of the morning rush hour.
But others braved the conditions to make the trek to the job. City offices remained open, but alternate side parking was suspended for Wednesday and onto Thursday as well.
The evening commute was very difficult for drivers and those taking mass transit, with blowing and drifting snow, but the storm tapered down after 10 p.m. from west to east.
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