Winter Storm Warning in Effect for Tri-State Area; Blizzard-Like Conditions, More Than Foot of Snow Possible in Parts
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The East Coast is facing what’s expected to be its largest snowstorm in at least two years, with up to a foot of snow possible in New York City.
Get ready! Here's Chief Meteorologist @CraigAllenWx with the three things you need to know about today's snowstorm. Keep it locked in to WCBS 880 for the latest updates every 10 minutes on the 8s. https://t.co/wEGt8fwl8I pic.twitter.com/NzpdUuxVbN
— WCBS Newsradio 880 (@wcbs880) December 16, 2020
A major winter storm is set to hit the Tri-State area on Wednesday with the potential to bring 6 to 12 inches of snow to much of the region and possibly more than a foot in some parts.
A winter storm warning is in effect for a majority of the area, including New York City and all of Long Island, from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday afternoon.
Coastal flood and high wind warnings are in effect for the New Jersey shoreline.
Meteorologists get all excited over the first snowfall of the season. It’s like Opening Day for them! This storm appears to be a whopper tomorrow evening in the Tri-State. @CraigAllenWx is all over it on @WCBS880. #StayConnected #LocalNewsMatters pic.twitter.com/mhKNNL3SpC
— Neil A. Carousso (@NeilACarousso) December 16, 2020
Snow arrived in the area Wednesday afternoon and the worst of the storm is expected after 7 p.m. through sunrise Thursday. Snow will continue Thursday morning before tapering off around noon.
Snow is forecast to come down at a rate of 1 to 3 inches per hour as the fast-moving storm rolls through the area overnight. Snow will be light and fluffy to the north and west, while it will be heavier and wetter towards the coast.
Wind and snow will create blizzard-like conditions at times Wednesday night into Thursday, leading to poor visibility and dangerous travel conditions, especially in northern New Jersey, the Hudson Valley and much of Connecticut, where visibility could be near-zero at times during the height of the storm.
New York City may see two or three times as much snow as it did all of last winter, when there were 4.8 inches recorded for the entire season in the five boroughs. The total accumulation will depend how much the snow mixes with rain; if little mixing occurs, snow could approach a foot.
As much as a foot of snow could fall in the city.
Northwestern suburbs in New Jersey and the Hudson Valley could see more than a foot, while far northwest New Jersey could get nearly 2 feet.
Snow totals will be lower along the coast. Portions of Suffolk County could see between 3 and 6 inches, and even less on the very East End out towards Orient Point and Montauk.
There will likely be under 6 inches of snow down the Garden State Parkway corridor of New Jersey, from mid-Monmouth County all the way down to the southern portion of the state.
The heaviest amounts will be determined by the exact track of the storm; if it moves further east, the city and nearby areas will see higher snow totals.
Wind gusting to near 50 mph at the storm’s peak early Thursday will likely cause power outages at times.
MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Daniel DeCrescenzo told WCBS 880 that “a heavy, wet, wind-driven snow” could impact bridges across the area.
“If we have winds in excess of 40 mph, you may see restrictions on bridges,” he said.
New York City’s Department of Sanitation has issued a “snow alert” and is suspending alternate side parking regulations on Wednesday and Thursday for snow clearing operations. Restaurants must also cease outdoor dining starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday to keep the streets clear for snow plowing.
The department said salt spreaders are already filled and ready to go. The department’s collection trucks will also be turned into snow plows and will be deployed once 2 inches of snow has fallen.
The sanitation department will have all hands on deck with 12 hour shifts, 2,000 plows and 700 salt spreaders.
Spreaders will be out ahead of the first flakes,” acting commissioner Ed Grayson said, adding that they’ll start by brining the streets in advance of any precipitation.
He knows the landscape is different this year with the outdoor dining structures.
“So our job has been to train to know where they are and to do all we can to work with the local streetscape,” he said.
The mayor said if restaurants can’t bring in outdoor structures, “we’ll work around them.”
The mayor said he “feels good” about the city’s ability to clear things up by Thursday afternoon, and he’s hopeful outdoor dining can resume Thursday night. A final determination could be made in the morning.
The timing of the storm is troubling, which comes as COVID-19 vaccines have started to be delivered and administered.
“Vaccine deliveries will continue as scheduled,” Mayor Bill de Blasio assured.
The mayor admitted that COVID “makes everything harder” and more complicated, but he’s confident that the city is prepared to tackle the storm.
“I think in terms of this storm, the city has what it needs to get through,” de Blasio said.
The mayor is warning New York City residents to stay off the roads for the duration of the storm.
“This is a serious storm bearing down on us,” de Blasio said, as he urged residents to stay off the roads so the plows could do their jobs. “The next 24 hours is not when you want to be out on the road.”
New York City public school buildings will be closed Thursday, but classes will be held remotely.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed state agencies to prepare for the incoming storm and said he may declare a state of emergency at 6 p.m. for parts of the state, including Sullivan, Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Dutchess counties.
“Forecasts are calling for this season’s first major snowstorm in the Hudson Valley and points south, so it’s once again time for New Yorkers to find their shovels,” Cuomo said. “On the state side, all of our agencies have readied their emergency response assets, are coordinating with local governments and will help ensure utilities are prepared to address any possible power outages.”
The governor’s office is advising New Yorkers to start taking precautions now for this impending storm, which could also bring blowing and drifting snow, travel delays, and potential power outages.
— WCBS Newsradio 880 (@wcbs880) December 15, 2020
Con Edison said it is monitoring the snowy, windy weather approaching the region and will be prepared to respond to any service problems. Con Edison crews will be supplemented by 225 mutual aid workers who will help restore service to customers who are affected, the utility said.
The Port Authority said speed restrictions may be imposed on its bridges and is advising travelers to its airports to contact their carriers and airlines for information on delays and cancellations.
The Tri-State area will face what's expected to be its largest snowstorm in years. @CraigAllenWx has the latest on when the storm will hit and how much snow we can expect: https://t.co/8Igx7Ya8sK pic.twitter.com/j8CsOOFzcB
— WCBS Newsradio 880 (@wcbs880) December 15, 2020
Metropolitan Transportation Authority personnel are also ready to spread salt and clear platforms and stairs of snow and ice, keep signals, switches, third rail operating, remove any downed trees that may fall across tracks, and attend to any weather-related challenges during the storm.
Gov. Phil Murphy said he signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in New Jersey beginning at 2 p.m. Wednesday. State offices will close starting at 1 p.m.
“We expect a significant winter storm to begin making its way across the state,” Murphy said. “This will be a statewide weather event and every county is currently under a watch or a warning of some sort.”
Murphy said commercial vehicle travel restrictions are in place along the state’s interstate highways. If people must travel, the governor said drivers should make sure they have an emergency supply kit for their vehicle. Information on road conditions will be posted on highways across the state.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told WCBS 880 that the first salt trucks were already out Wednesday before a single snowflake had fallen on Long Island.
“We have a lot of salt. We did a bunch of salt yesterday. We’re doing more. We sent the trucks out at 7 a.m. this morning to do more salt on all of our county roads,” Curran said.
Curran said the county has the resources necessary to deal with the storm, even amid the pandemic, including some 90 trucks on the roadways.
Suffolk County has 19,000 tons of salt and 200 snow plow trucks ready to go.
“Good news on the East End the totals will be less, but we’re looking at gusts of up to 57 mph on the East End,” County Executive Steve Bellone said.
Officials are warning that it will be a heavy, wet snow so if you’re not physically fit it may be wise to hire someone to do the shoveling.
Neil A. Carousso produced and edited WCBS Chief Meteorologist Craig Allen’s snow storm video uppates.