New York

Following ‘Snowvember' Chaos, New York City Reveals More Aggressive Plan for Uncertain Storms

What to Know

  • New York City revealed a more aggressive plan to deal with unexpected weather following a review the recent November snow storm
  • The Mayor’s Office of Operations review determined that moving forward the city will “over-prepare” for certain storms
  • On Nov. 15, the tri-state area experienced extreme traffic circumstances following a forecasted snowstorm that increased in intensity

New York City has revealed a more aggressive plan to deal with unexpected weather following a review of the chaotic and unexpected "Snowvember" storm that caused abject chaos across the city -- over just 6 inches of snow.

During the afternoon and evening of Nov. 15, New York City and the immediate tri-state area experienced extreme traffic circumstances following a forecasted snowstorm that rapidly increased in intensity. Snow that had been expected to turn quickly to rain stayed snow for a longer period of time. 

The result was a nightmare the likes of which many said they'd never seen.

New York commuters were stranded in their cars for hours, students who were stuck on buses or stranded at school waiting for parents (for hours and in some cases overnight) as streets were so gridlocked that they were impassable to plows and salt-spreaders until late at night.

“While the City was prepared to address the initially forecasted weather, and increased its efforts as the forecast worsened, there are several specific areas where our response to the evolving weather conditions and operational concerns across the city can be improved,” the city's report of its storm response read.

The Mayor’s Office of Operations report says that moving forward, the city will “over-prepare” for storms with forecasts that involve significant changes in snowfall, accumulation or duration.

“For these storms, we recommend both estimating that snow will begin sooner than predicted and bolstering our preparations based on an estimation of several inches above the high end of a changing forecast, with specific parameters to be determined by the Department of Sanitation in consultation with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Operations,” the report said.

Additionally, the plan calls for a more consistent and timely communication with the public — as well as targeted communication to specific populations, as necessary, such as parents — must occur.

Overall, the report identified three key areas where the city can make improvements to its snow response.

First, there should be earlier centralized coordination to allow key contributors to review information and quickly develop joint options for consideration.

Second, the report suggests improving interagency data sharing since, “broadly, agencies followed internal and established protocols to review and respond to agency-specific indicators as the National Weather Service shifted their predictions,” but “did not immediately leverage each other’s resources and data sharing capability.”

Lastly, the report recommends that the DOT and NYPD collaborate on traffic analysis during snow events with a goal of obtaining potential solutions and alternate routes to address gridlock.

The report also included agency-specific recommendations, including for the Department of Education. Among the suggestions are mandating the DOE to install GPS in school buses in future contracts, maintain emergency supplies like snacks and water on buses, establishing a more public and timely cancellation policy and follow up protocols with school communities and after school programs, and have a more effective and consistent communication protocol in place to notify parents to any changes in programming.

Contact Us