The first snowstorm of the season to hit the New York City area brought several inches of heavy, wet snow that slowed the evening's commute to a crawl, completely paralyzing it in some spots.
The snowfall Thursday downed countless tree branches throughout the city, causing traffic gridlock in some areas. Police advised people to stay indoors and avoid the roads, if possible, but it was too late for commuters trying to get home. Check the latest traffic and transit advisories here.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal had to be partially shut down due to overcrowding. Lines outside the terminal were stretching around the block even as the evening rush wound down. Officials say the poor weather made it difficult for buses to reach the terminal.
Early Wednesday, NJ Transit said bus riders should plan for extra travel time and expect delays and cancellations on Friday because "many bus operators worked past their normal end times.
Federal law requires a mandated rest period, which means some operators may not be available for morning service."
Newark's Penn Station was also a nightmare for many, packed wall to wall with exasperated commuters, who resorted to pushing and shoving amid the disorder and lack of communication. The Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit also had systemwide delays.
A multi-vehicle accident on the George Washington Bridge added to the traffic nightmare. After sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, people bailed out of vehicles and started trekking over the bridge and snow-covered ramp back to Manhattan, filing toward the 178th Street exit.
The city's sanitation department says it had nearly 700 salt spreaders pre-deployed around the city by noontime, but the "afternoon snowfall was much heavier than had been forecast by all weather outlets requiring that we deploy plows," according to spokesman Vito Turso.
"Complicating issues was the fact that several bridges were closed, and traffic, particularly in the Bronx, upper Manhattan and on Staten Island, came to a halt with our snow clearing equipment stuck within," said Turso.
Storm Team 4 had predicted snow early in the week, with projected totals creeping up Wednesday into Thursday.
The sanitation department says more than 1,000 pieces of equipment will work through the night to clear all roadways for the morning's rush hour. Alternate side parking is suspended Friday.
Mayor de Blasio tweeted Thursday night: "First storm of the year hit hard and right at rush hour, downing trees and causing delays. @NYCSanitation plows and salt spreaders are making progress as traffic eases. They'll be out all night to get roads clear before the AM commute."
In New Jersey, the Bayonne Bridge was shut down for hours (it has since reopened), all the major tunnels saw delays, and stretches of major highways -- including the Garden State, I-280, I-78, RT-10 and RT-130 -- were closed at the height of the storm. The Palisades Parkway was at a standstill at one point. And late Thursday night, all major arteries running through Newark were shut down, with police citing icing and collisions.
Flight delays crept up to over four hours at Kennedy Airport, and they weren't much better at Newark and LaGuardia airports.
Children were stuck for hours on school buses after dismissal. One News 4 reporter said her daughter had been sitting on her bus for over two hours, at one point completely stuck over the Harlem River. Another reporter said her daughter's afterschool bus was taking a two-hour journey for the Upper East Side to Murray Hill, and a counselor called parents to give them updates -- they reported MTA buses stuck all over the Upper East Side and streets closed everywhere.
The storm made this the snowiest November in 80 years, with 6 inches recorded in Central Park.