Snow starts in New York as city braces for blizzard


| ctumola@queenscourier.com |

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UPDATE 4:30 p.m.:  Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for New York.

“As this winter storm unfolds, bringing heavy snow and high winds to parts of the state, I strongly urge all New Yorkers to exercise caution, avoid travel, and stay indoors,” said Cuomo. “To ensure an effective and rapid response to this winter storm, I am declaring a state of emergency for counties in the lower Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island so resources can get to communities where they are needed as quickly as possible.”

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Early Friday morning the snow began falling, but the worst of the weather is still to come.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a blizzard warning from the New York City area that will remain in effect until 1 p.m. Saturday. Ten to 14 inches of snow are expected as well as strong winds at 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph.

During the day Friday, the warmer temperatures will bring a mix of rain and snow, but the precipitation will turn to all snow by 3 p.m., with the worst storm conditions forecasted for tonight. The snow should taper off on Saturday morning.

Both the city and local residents are taking the blizzard warning seriously.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a severe weather advisory for the city, and, even though the schools are open today, cancelled all after-school programs and PSAL games have been cancelled.

Yesterday, at a storm press briefing, the mayor also assured residents that the snow plows and salt spreaders are ready to go.

City residents can track the progress of the Department of Sanitation‘s clearing operations for their specific street online.

Alternate side parking is suspended citywide through Sunday, but if your vehicle is found blocking roadways or hindering the ability to plow streets, it may be towed at the owner’s expense.

Though the city’s weather advisory urged the public to use public transportation and avoid unnecessary driving during the duration of the storm.

Because many commuters are likely to head home early today before the heavy snow begins, the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North have added extra trains.

Despite the additional transit and warnings to stay off the road, drivers still made sure to fill up their tanks Thursday. As a result, several area gas stations are experiencing long lines reminiscent of the Sandy gas shortage.

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