No one predicted the severity of Thursday's snowstorm. Why?

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Most New Yorkers left for work on Thursday in their usual attire: Sneakers for commuting, a winter coat, and possibly an umbrella for the "slushy" forecast.

No one (to our knowledge) expected the nightmare that followed.

The mere 3-to-5 inches of snow, which our area surely handled in years prior, caused traffic accident that choked up highways, blocked airport runways and toppled trees.

MORE: Snowfall totals: How much snow fell across NY area

Some blamed city officials, and others had harsh words for our news team. But really, what went wrong?

"It was all about temperature," said Meteorologist Jeff Smith.

The temperature, it turns out, ended up being just a couple of degrees colder than predicted. That allowed snow to last a few hours longer before changing to rain.

"Initially, we thought we'd be getting snow at 33 or 34 degrees, which would mean accumulation would be limited to non-paved surfaces," Smith said. "But when that temperature ended up being closer to 31 or 32, disaster ensued!"

During that time, snow was coming down at 2 inches per hour. Just two extra hours of snowfall at that rate tacked another 4 inches or so onto the totals!

Oh, and "that time" also happened to be rush hour, and those subfreezing temperatures made it so the snow was able to accumulate more readily on the roadways.

"Amazing how just a couple of degrees made all the difference," Smith said.

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