Nor'easter buries the New York area

March 2, 2009 8:29:51 PM PST
A massive late winter snowstorm dumped as much as a foot of snow on parts of the tri-state area.Drivers across the tri-state with advised to proceed with caution on Monday night as many roads remained snow covered. Black ice was also a concern.

As day turned to night, road conditions worsened. A number of spinouts were reported in Yonkers where the Thruway and Cross County meet. Most of them happened on the ramp from the northbound thruway to the eastbound Cross County.

On the eastbound Cross County just east of the Thruway, a driver was struck by a car while pushing his vehicle on the parkway. His car broke down after sliding off the road and hitting the guardrail. As he was pushing his vehicle, another car came up behind him and struck him. It happened around 7:40 p.m.

His injuries are not serious but he was taken to Jacobi Medical Center as a precaution. The driver of the striking car apparently didn't see him, police said.

Concerned about road conditions in the morning, a number of schools already delayed or canceled classes for Tuesday.

The New York City public school district declared a rare snow day on Monday -- the first in five years. The last time that happened was Jan. 28, 2004.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the wind was a factor in the rare decision to close New York City's public schools.

"It's always possible it (a storm) will push to the other side," Bloomberg said at a press conference. "Our first objective is to see if we can get everyone to school ... not to give them another day of vacation."

Some New York parents complained that the city waited until 5:40 a.m. to call off classes, saying they didn't have enough notice. Mayor Bloomberg brushed off the criticism and praised the city's storm response, which included dispatching 2,000 workers and 1,400 plows to work around the clock to clean New York's 6,000 miles of streets.

"It's like plowing from here to Los Angeles and back," Bloomberg said at a news conference, standing in front of an orange snow plow at a garage. Central Park recorded 7 inches of snow, and more than a foot was reported on parts of Long Island, where high winds caused 2-foot drifts on highways in the Hamptons.

Bloomberg added that any parents who did not receive prompt notification should have called the city's 311 information line.

More than 900 flights were canceled - a majority of all flights at Kennedy, Newark and LaGuardia airports, according to the Port Authority. Travelers were urged to call their carriers.

Instead of walking on the warm sands of the Dominican Republic Monday night, Shirley Challis, 53, of Portsmouth, England, and her 27-year-old daughter Laura Potter will spend it curled up on chairs at Newark Liberty.

Their connecting flight to the island getaway was canceled, and they're on standby for a plane due to leave Tuesday - but probably not in time for them to make the wedding they were on their way to attend Tuesday afternoon.

"I didn't know all this was going to happen - it's like we've been cursed, " Challis said. "It's like a nightmare."

The city's bus and subway service was running near normal with scattered delays on Monday morning, said NYC Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges.

However, all "long haul" bus lines, including Greyhound, Peter Pan and Adirondack, canceled service out of the Port Authority bus terminal in midtown Manhattan.

Ridership on America's largest commuter railroad was down by 36-percent during the morning rush hour today, according to a preliminary assessment by railroad personnel. The LIRR ordinarily carries 100,000 morning rush hour commuters, but the weather apparently inspired one in three riders to stay home, according to railroad VP Joe Calderone.

There were the typical problems with frozen switches, owing to the blowing and drifting snow, Calderone told Eyewitness News. Delays averaged 15-20 minutes, which means some trains were delayed even longer.

Third rail icing conditions were reported on some routes, but no trains have stalled or been cancelled as of 10:30 a.m.

LIRR ran eight extra PM rush hour trains this afternoon, starting at 2:10 p.m., to accommodate any customers who may be leaving work earlier than usual due to the storm.

PATH service was running on or close to schedule. Metro-North reported delays of up to 30 minutes on some trains. It advised riders to allow extra time and to watch for slippery platforms.

Vehicular and pedestrian traffic was light during the morning commute in New York City. Sidewalks were slushy and many crosswalks were snowpacked.

Some vehicles fishtailed on slippery streets. Drivers tried to maneuver out of snow-filled parking spots, tires spinning.

On eastern Long Island, the Town of Southampton declared a snow emergency while coping with more than a foot of the stuff. Town supervisor Linda Kabot said the wind was creating 2 foot drifts on some highways.

Police said the icy roads in Greenlawn, Long Island, caused an accident that killed a Huntington motorist Sunday night, at the start of the snowstorm.

More than a foot of snow also fell on parts of New Jersey, snarling travel, closing offices and schools, and digging the cash-strapped state further into a hole with at least $6.5 million in weather-related costs.

The storm caused hundreds of highway accidents and left more than 1,600 people without electricity at one point. However, Gov. John Corzine said it produced no traffic-related fatalities and state crews succeeded in keeping key roads open.

"This is probably the heaviest snowstorm we've had in three or four years and we have seen no indication of severe problems" on key roads, Corzine said during an appearance Monday afternoon at the Statewide Traffic Management Center in Woodbridge. "Roads are generally clear and safe."

Corzine warned residents to be wary of black ice tonight and Tuesday morning as temperatures fall and snow continues to accumulate from a storm that's already dumped more than a foot in some areas. State employees, who were sent home early Monday, will work a normal schedule Tuesday.

Connecticut state employees were given an extra 2 hours to get to work on storm-slick roads on Monday.

The Connecticut State Department of Transportation says the heavy winter snow storm left a slick covering on major highways and secondary roads.

Schools systems across the state canceled classes.

Information from Eyewitness News reporter N.J. Burkett and The Associated Press contributed to this report.