New York City learns lesson from last year's 'Snowvember' storm

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City was hit with a flurry of tough lessons after last year's "Snowvember" storm brought the area to a screeching halt. Here's how they have prepared this year.

It was just a few inches of snow, but for a few hours one year ago, the greatest city in the world was frozen in place.

The unexpectedly strong storm left a surprising coating of snow on untreated streets that in a flash became skating rinks.

Buses running without chains lost all traction, and the cars -- the tens of thousands of cars -- got stuck and blocked each other while sanitation trucks tried to lay down salt.

It was chaos.

"Weather can be very frustrating for me," New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said.

Garcia may have one of the toughest jobs on the planet. As Sanitation Commissioner, she's responsible for clearing the roads.

She says the problem last year was a forecast that got worse after everyone drove to work. When they all hit the road early to try to get home, the snow had already started -- and sanitation had no time to prepare.

"When I took this job, I thought...well, everyone already knows when snow is coming," Garcia said. "And then I got into this job, and actually, really, they don't."

Twelve months ago, a gently sloping West Side Highway on-ramp became an impassible ice rink. And it turns out, critical links like it make up 300 miles of roadway across the five boroughs.

And a year later, the city says it has a new plan to keep them moving.

"The ramps really struggled, and we wanted to see if we can put down more product ahead to hold those from freezing longer," Garcia said.

So the city has invested in 20 trucks to spray a layer of brine on all those ramps well in advance of the slightest chance of snow.

They're also working more closely with police to close any ramps that shows signs of early icing. But with all her team's preparation comes a plea -- to you.

"With climate change and storms that are unpredictable, we need the public to be paying attention," Garcia said.

They've prepared as much as they can. But so should you.

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