A crippling blizzard set to hit the city Monday could go down in the record books, bringing more than two feet of snow and whiteout conditions.
With the National Weather Service predicting 20 to 30 inches of snow and issuing a blizzard warning, beginning at 1 p.m. Monday and lasting until midnight Tuesday, the city was already getting ready for the massive storm on Sunday.
“Prepare for something worse than we’ve seen before,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on the city’s storm preparation Sunday afternoon.
Telling New Yorkers, not to “underestimate this storm,” the mayor urged motorists to stay off the roads or to leave work early on Monday.
Monday’s evening rush hour is “going to a huge problem,” he said, adding that everyone should “certainly stay off the roads Tuesday.” The mayor also asked people to stay out of city parks starting Monday because of the potential for falling branches and even keep walking to a minimum because of slippery conditions.
The city’s public schools will remain open on Monday, but all school trips, after-school programs, PSAL and evening adult education programs are canceled. A final decision about Tuesday will be made tomorrow, but it’s “likely” that schools will be closed that day, de Blasio said.
Only 2 to 4 inches is forecast for the day Monday, but heavier snowfall, as much as 12 to 18 inches is predicted overnight, according to the NWS. On Tuesday the snow will continue to accumulate, adding a possible 10 to 14 inches to the totals before adding a couple of more inches at night and tapering off by about 3 a.m. Windy conditions, with gusts as high as 50 mph will likely create whiteout conditions.
In anticipation of the snowfall, the Department of Sanitation has issued a “snow alert” starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday and will be deploying its snow fighting equipment as needed. According to the mayor, there will be 2,400 workers per shift on 12 hour shifts, with 500 salt spreaders out ahead of the storm and 1,500 snow plows once 2 inches hit.
Alternate side parking will be suspended Monday and Tuesday to help with snow removal, but payment at parking meters remains in effect. Garbage and recycling collection will also be suspended.
By the time the sun returns on Wednesday, storm totals could be of historic proportions.
De Blasio was confident it will be among the top three largest snowfalls to hit the city, according to records that date back to the late 19th century.
“This could be the biggest snowstorm in the history of this city,” he said.
The current record holder is a February 2006 storm, when 26.9 inches of snow fell in Central Park over a 16-hour period.