States of emergency as New York area walloped by blast of winter snow

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Friday, February 10, 2017
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Eyewitness News has team coverage on Thursday's snowstorm.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The Tri-State area got walloped by a snowstorm Thursday, leaving towns and residents to deal with significant accumulations.

Suffolk County, which saw the highest totals, in excess of a foot in some places, declared a state of emergency, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio closed all of New York City's public schools.

"I want to emphasize to all New Yorkers, stay inside if you can," de Blasio said. "Don't go out if you don't have to. If you need to go out, please don't use your car, because we need to let our sanitation department clear the roads."

Schools were closed in most places, including all CUNY campuses, and government offices told most non-essential workers to stay home. Many schools throughout the region would remain closed for Friday, but it was announced New York City schools would be open Friday.

Police across the area were responding to hundreds of accidents, though at this point, no serious injuries have been reported.

Bundled-up commuters carefully navigated snow-covered sidewalks, where blowing snow stung any exposed skin. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers to prepare for dangerous conditions.

"As Mother Nature once again tests the resilience and strength of this state, I urge New Yorkers to plan ahead, stay informed, and above all, stay safe," Cuomo said. "I have directed state agencies to closely monitor conditions and to clear roadways as quickly as possible in order to avoid accidents and keep our roadways safe. I encourage everyone in the path of these storms to use extra caution and avoid unnecessary travel during these hazardous weather conditions."


The expectation of upwards of a foot of 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.

"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's optimistic that New York City will be "largely back to normal" on Friday, including the reopening of public schools.

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.


Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone declared a state of emergency as a result of the storm. Travel was hazardous due to snow-covered roads and poor visibility, and there were more than 100 rescues of motorists stranded on Suffolk County roads.

"We're in for a long night," Bellone said.

Gov. Cuomo directed non-essential state employees to go home from work early, and scattered power outages were reported along with blowing and drifting snow. Public officials warned residents not to be complacent and to stay off the roads, only venturing out if travel is absolutely necessary.

Public works crews scrambled to clear roads, while LIRR workers cleared snow from train platforms. All Suffolk County public buses have been discontinued for the day.


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, including TRIPS, TOR and the Tappan Zee Express.


Heavy snow ended across New Jersey, but motorists still faced icy conditions heading home from work Thursday. 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 remain below freezing and driving is slick. Some power outages were reported, and PSE&G and JCP&L were working to restore services.

"We have additional personnel scheduled and on standby, with extra tree crews and equipment at the ready," PSE&G senior vice president of electric and gas operations John Latka said. "We're prepared for whatever the storm brings our way."

Customers were advised to prepare an emergency kit that includes a gallon of water per day for three days, a first aid kit and a flashlight. PSE&G also urges customers not to run any gasoline powered engine, including generators and snowblowers, in a garage or any other enclosed space to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.