Snow, ice, slush make slippery going in NY

02.05.14 | Bob Price

 

It was snow, then it was ice, then it was frozen rain, then it was slush. The surface was slippery Wednesday no matter where you were in New York - or how you were trying to get around.

Airplane flights were canceled by the hundreds. Commuter train and subway services were erratic. Buses were delayed. Cars slid off the suburban parkways and an interstate highway was closed.

Walking was a challenge, too, as the various forms of precipitation combined into slush.

"I'm sinking," said Kal'a Carruth as she tried to negotiate a muddy puddle in downtown White Plains that had small floes of ice in it. "These are the wrong boots. They have traction but they're not waterproof."

Schools from the Finger Lakes to the Adirondacks to the Hudson Valley called off or delayed classes - except in New York City, which rarely closes.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a statewide state of emergency, closing Interstate 84 between the Connecticut and Pennsylvania borders. He also ordered 3,500 tons of stockpiled road salt to be trucked to the New York City area, where supplies were running low with plenty of winter left.

By late morning, 4 inches of snow and a quarter inch of ice had fallen on Central Park.

"That's a significant amount of ice," said National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Picca. "You worry about branches coming down."

Snow totals were much higher to the north, with readings of 11 inches in Warwick, 9 in Carmel and 8.5 in Somers.Upstate, forecasters said the storm could drop up to 16 inches of snow in some places.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, shoveling his Brooklyn sidewalk, warned his constituents that the snow was wet and heavy. "Hire your local teenager," he suggested.

He praised his constituents' resiliency, saying New Yorkers have "taken a series of storms in stride."

"Let's face it, this city is no stranger to adversity," the mayor said.

The temperature was right around the freezing mark across the metropolitan area and not likely to change much during the day, Picca said. But the precipitation was letting up and "we're not anticipating for this evening the significant problems we saw this morning."

Snow and freezing rain caused the cancellation of hundreds of flights at airports - 40 percent of flights at LaGuardia Airport and 36 percent at John F. Kennedy Airport.

About 8,000 businesses and households were without power by midday Wednesday, Cuomo said.

A power problem caused problems on three subway lines in Manhattan and a track fire at Grand Central Terminal stopped a line between Manhattan and Queens for a time.

On the Metro-North commuter lines, early service was reduced 18 percent for a time and ice buildup on power lines caused some disruptions. A disabled train stopped service along a stretch of the Long Island Rail Road.

However, at noon the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the subways, the LIRR and two of Metro-North's three lines were operating on regular schedules. The New Haven line downshifted to hourly service because of icing on overhead wires.

Downstate highway conditions improved as the day went on, but accidents were common earlier, mostly cars that skidded off the road into the packed snow alongside, state police said. However, some accidents caused road closures.

Picca said the forecast suggests some potential for another storm late in the weekend. He said it probably would make "at least a close pass to the Northeast."