Mayor Bill de Blasio warned New Yorkers once again to stay off the roads Saturday as he said Winter Storm Jonas will likely be one of the largest snowfalls in the city’s history.
“It’s quite clear that the math speaks for itself,” de Blasio, said referring to the amount of flakes that are falling per hour — 1 to 3 inches.
He said Saturday morning that it was clear the storm would surpass the 20-inch snowfall mark and possibly reach 30 inches, landing Jonas in the top five blizzards in the city’s history, dating back to 1869.
The National Weather Service reported that as of 7 p.m. the snowfall in Central Park was 25.1 inches. The highest snowfall ever recorded in the city is 26.9 inches for a February 2006 blizzard, followed by 25.8 inches in December 1947.
With those numbers, a travel ban is in effect for New York City until 7 a.m. Sunday.
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Earlier Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for New York City, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley, and announced that the MTA would suspend all bus service in New York City at 12 p.m. The MTA expects to resume limited bus services tomorrow at 7:00 a.m.
“This is a major storm, and travel conditions throughout downstate New York are dangerous,” Cuomo said in a statement that morning. “We are doing everything possible to keep the roads and mass transit operational, but unless there is an emergency people should not be traveling. We are responding aggressively as the storm develops and working hand-in-hand with our local partners to keep communities safe. I urge all New Yorkers to stay home, stay warm, and allow our emergency personnel to do their jobs.”
Just after the buses shut down, Cuomo, in addition to announcing the road ban for the city, as well as other parts in downstate New York, said that service would shut down on the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road due to tracks icing over starting at 4 p.m. The Staten Island Railway was also suspended at 4 p.m. He added that 4 p.m. would be the last train on above-ground subway routes.
According to the governor's office, "the MTA is actively monitoring rail conditions through the night and will provide an assessment for restoration of above-ground subways, LIRR and Metro-North services by 6:00 a.m. The underground portion of the subway system is continuing to operate with limited service."
Walkways are also closed on the Robert F. Kennedy, Henry Hudson, Cross Bay and Marine Parkway bridges. The lower level of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge is closed. Seastreak Ferry has suspended service through Sunday, and East River Ferry service was terminated as of 12:55 p.m. Saturday.
The governor's office additionally added that "the vast majority of flights have been or will be canceled [Sunday] at LaGuardia and JFK Airports, and the Port Authority is working around the clock to restore operations as the weather clears. The first arrivals and departures are expected to occur Sunday midday."
De Blasio reiterated Cuomo’s message that people should stay off the roads throughout Saturday, and even cautioned parents to limit or postpone their children’s playtime in the snow until Sunday.
“Don’t go out or go out very briefly and keep a close eye on your kids, “ he said.
The mayor later cautioned city residents to take it easy when shoveling snow after police reported that there had been three deaths related to snow shoveling.
New Yorkers are also urged to stay away from the city’s parks on Saturday because of high winds and blowing snow. Rockaway Beach will be closed this weekend.
Alternate side parking is now suspended through Monday to facilitate snow removal. Garbage, recycling and organics collections are suspended for Saturday.
The Sanitation Department also said it has two 12-hour shifts of 2,300 workers each on duty, with 1,650 plows and another 579 salt spreaders on the roadways, with an additional 135 plows from other agencies. Plowing progress can be followed at nyc.gov/plownyc.
Going as far as urging Broadway shows and restaurants to close for the day, and New Yorkers to forgo their beloved deliveries, the mayor told everyone early Saturday afternoon that they "should head home now."
"We need cars off the road so that our equipment can do its work and keep streets passable for emergency vehicles. Travel conditions are dangerous, and we want to keep all New Yorkers safe until this storm passes," he said.