NEW YORK - The howling winds of the biggest snowstorm of the winter to hit the New York City area have been replaced by the scraping of shovels and the growl of snowblowers.
The storm, which lasted for about 12 hours, blasted through the region Thursday, covering roads, prompting school closings and states of emergency to be issued, and even resulted in one man's death in Manhattan.
Commuting was treacherous in many parts of the region Friday morning with the snow freezing into ice -- all while crews continued to clear roads of the hefty coating of snow that steadily fell the day before.
In Suffolk County, plows had difficulty reaching asphalt and some even got stuck.
Many schools throughout the region remained closed Friday, but Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City schools would be open on Friday.
On the transit front, LIRR and Metro North were telling riders to anticipate changes Friday morning. New Jersey Transit said it was cross-honoring all day.
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"I think it was a real excellent effort by the sanitation department, and our sanitation workers, in this storm," Mayor de Blasio said in a radio interview. "I think we did a great job, on a lot streets in queens, including smaller streets in queens that have been a problem in the past, because we have new equipment that we put into the last budget that's allowing us to do a much better job on smaller streets. And you will see a lot more of that going forward."
MORE ON LONG ISLAND:
Many suburban schools operated with delayed openings, except on Long Island where many schools closed. All Suffolk schools, and some in Nassau, are closed and residents were urged to stay home Friday if possible.
Suffolk County roads were treacherous Friday for the morning commute after roads iced up overnight. Plows had difficulty reaching asphalt and some even got stuck.
The county remains under a state of emergency. While some county roads are passable, residents were urged to stay home if possible this morning or use caution if they have to go to work.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone declared a state of emergency Thursday. Dozens of motorists got stranded Thursday on New York's Long Island after they couldn't make it up icy ramps.
Public works crews scrambled to clear roads, while LIRR workers cleared snow from train platforms. All Suffolk County public buses were discontinued for the day on Thursday.
Nassau County digging out after snowstorm
IN NEW YORK CITY:
The snow brought out the city's heavy equipment, with the Department of Sanitation employing 2,400 workers and 1,600 plows on 12-hour shifts across the city. Prior to the plowing that began after 2 inches of accumulation, 689 salt spreaders were out during the early snow hours. The city has a large stockpile of salt -- 315,000 tons -- for streets and sidewalks. Peak snow accumulations measured between 10 and 14 inches.
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"I took a tour in Queens, through Astoria, Long Island City and Jackson Heights, some of the areas where we had a lot of trouble with the blizzard last year, and I like what I saw," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "We have more work to do today. Strong start in those areas. We'll be monitoring all day looking for those areas that need attention."
De Blasio said he was optimistic that New York City will be "largely back to normal" on Friday.
Wind chill factors are expected to be very low for several days, and outreach teams were working to get homeless people indoors. Some buses had gotten stuck, but transit overall continued running pretty well.
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Rockland County Executive Ed Day declared a State of Emergency due to the heavy snow and deteriorating weather conditions, which banned travel on all county and local roads for all but essential business. It expired at 4 p.m., with some bus service resuming at the same time.
"The worst of the snow appears to be over, but we will urge people to stay off the roads as much as possible," Day said.
He praised county road crews for their hard work removing the snow.
The county government was open, but the Rockland Department of Public Transportation had suspended all bus service Thursday, including TRIPS, TOR and the Tappan Zee Express.
IN NEW JERSEY:
Heavy snow ended across New Jersey, but motorists are still faced icy conditions into the night. The fast-moving storm hit the northern part of the state first before pushing south. Accumulations range from 10 inches in Vernon to 6.5 inches in Basking Ridge and 2 inches in Freehold Township. South Jersey was spared the heaviest snow.
The state Transportation Department said it had more than 2,300 plows and salt spreaders on the highways, but temperatures were below freezing and driving remains slick. Some power outages were reported, and PSE&G and JCP&L were working to restore services.
Some New Jersey towns digging out from nearly one foot of snow