After a relatively mild start to winter, New Yorkers are bracing for its first possible blizzard of the season, from Saturday, January 23, through Sunday, January 24. With a predicted accumulation as high as 12 inches, elected officials and organizations are warning locals to err on the side of caution as the city prepares for the storm.
“At this moment, on Thursday morning, the forecast is still unclear, but there’s an increasing potential for a major winter storm this weekend,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who issued a hazardous travel advisory for this weekend. “Latest forecast shows snow beginning early Saturday morning and continuing through Sunday.”
Although it appears likely the city will experience some form of snow accumulation, de Blasio stressed that the forecast could change. “We’ve been through this together before. They can go higher and they can go lower,” he said. “So, we’re going to constantly keep you updated.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo also warned New Yorkers to prepare for the possibility of hazardous weather. “This storm could have a significant impact in communities throughout the downstate area, so I am directing all relevant state agencies to be on alert and ready to respond as the weather develops,” he said. “We will be closely monitoring storm conditions throughout the weekend, and deploying resources and equipment as necessary. I encourage all New Yorkers in the region to plan ahead, avoid unnecessary travel, and above all, stay safe.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is also making its preparations for the storm.
“We will make every effort to keep our services up and running so that our customers can get to where they need to be,” said MTA Chairperson and CEO Thomas Prendergast. “We have a tremendous investment in equipment, manpower and experience. However, we will only provide service as long as it’s safe to do so. There may come a point throughout the winter months when it is no longer prudent to roll out buses or send trains onto some outdoor sections of the lines.”
According to the MTA, approximately 1,000 track workers will be deployed during the storm in addition to 800 station workers to keep stairs and platforms clear of snow throughout the system. Third rail heaters and snow melting equipment have been deployed at critical points throughout the system to keep trains moving.
Other resources include 10 snow-throwers, seven de-icers, four jet blowers, eight R156 diesel locomotives and 22 heated/insulated work cars that can be used to carry crews and equipment to snow-removal work sites. In addition, 79 trains are placed into service with scraper shoes, which help reduce icing on the third rail, and 262,500 pounds of calcium chloride and 200,000 pounds of sand have been distributed to various locations within the subway system.
With buses, the MTA is deploying 37 snow-fighting vehicles to plow and salt bus stops in areas where buses have experienced difficulty during past storms. Fifteen tow trucks will be deployed throughout the city to respond rapidly to any buses that need assistance. Articulated buses will be replaced by shorter buses starting Friday night, and by Saturday morning, all buses on vulnerable routes will have snow tires or chained tires.
Some express subway lines will run on local tracks starting Friday night after rush hour, as trains are stored underground on express tracks to protect them from the elements.
The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) is expected to deploy crews to each of the East River bridges to conduct de-icing treatments, clear the walkways and pre-treat pedestrian overpasses and step streets, and ensure that all ferry terminals and municipal parking garages are pre-salted in advance of any snow.
“DOT’s many divisions are ready to mobilize at any time in preparation for pending snow,” said Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We are ready to keep New York moving.”
The Department of Sanitation (DOS) will pre-deploy 579 salt spreaders Friday evening. PLOWNYC will be activated and 1,650 plows will be dispatched when more than two inches of snow accumulates. A total of 135 other plows from the Department of Environmental Protection, DOT and Parks will assist DSNY snow clearing operations. Sanitation workers have been assigned to two 12-hour shifts starting Friday at 7 AM, with 2,400 workers per shift.
“The men and women of the Department of Sanitation are ready to keep New York City’s 6,000 miles of roads open during the coming storm,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “New York’s Strongest are loading our salt spreaders, attaching plows to our heavy duty trucks and will be pre-deployed around the city to assure a quick response to whatever this storm brings.”
The NYC Emergency Management (NYCEM) is working closely with the National Weather Service to monitor the storm’s track to determine any potential impact by hosting daily interagency conference calls with city and state agencies.
Con Edison is closely monitoring the storm and encourages customers to report downed power lines, outages and check service restoration status at www.coned.com or by calling 1-800-75-CONED
For more helpful tips for staying safe, visit www.nyc.gov/emergencymanagement.