The ground may be clear at the time of this writing, but New York City — and most of the East Coast — is bracing for a “bomb cyclone,” a winter storm that will bring hurricane-like gusty winds, sleet, snow and continuing below-freezing temperatures well into Friday.
An NWS Winter Storm Watch is in effect until Thursday night, and the agency also issued a Coastal Flood Advisory from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday for vulnerable areas along the coasts of Queens and Staten Island.
At press time, there were no MTA service changes in anticipation of the snow, and the MTA did not respond to a Metro request for comment.
The city’s official Twitter account did issue a tweet stating that public schools would be closed: “NYC public schools will be closed tomorrow, Thursday, January 4th, due to the snowstorm.”
While this is the first major weather event expected this winter, the city’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has been ready for months, Chief Edward Grayson said Wednesday on “Prep Talk,” the Office of Emergency Management’s podcast.
— NYCEM (@nycoem) January 3, 2018
“Snow removal is absolutely a year-round process at DSNY. We literally begin preparing for a winter season at the end of a winter season,” he said.
Before winter, Grayson said DSNY inspects plows and other equipment, calculates salt and other supplies and puts its workers through drills to ensure they are ready to respond to inclement weather.
The department will pre-deploy 693 salt spreaders and dispatch 1,500 plows when more than 2 inches of snow accumulate. Its PlowNYC progress tracker will be activated at nyc.gov/severeweather.
While parking meter payments will remain in effect across the city, alternate side parking (ASP) has been suspended for Thursday and Friday for DSNY snow removal operations, a decision that Grayson said is “forecast-driven.”
“I know it’s an annoying thing, moving your car is terrible,” the Queens native added. “The decision to suspend is usually done to benefit the public because we understand it’s not a good time to be out there moving a car.”
Use common sense
Grayson urges New Yorkers to abide by official advisories and warnings during these wintery days — and use common sense. “Use mass transit, stay off the roads when told, dress appropriately, stay warm, watch for the frostbite,” he said. “You’d be surprised how many people put themselves in jeopardy because they haven’t abided by common sense.”
Some other suggestions from Grayson:
• Don’t park all the way to the corner
“What’s going to happen is you’re cutting down my turn radius. We’re trained drivers, but you’re going to give me a challenge I don’t need with a plow,” he said.
• Mind the drain — and hydrant
If you’re shoveling, keep storm drains clear of snow, Grayson said — and that goes for fire hydrants, especially after the recent spate of devastating fires. “You certainly don’t want to stop the FDNY from accessing the hydrant,” he said.
• Be a good neighbor
While many people shoveling may be able-bodied, Grayson asks New Yorkers to think of others who are not so lucky when shoveling and clear a wider path and shovel for your vulnerable neighbors.
• Be patient with DSNY workers
“We need some patience because we are victims of the same meteorological event at the same time,” Grayson said. “Most of our workforce goes home after a 14-hour shift and shovels snow again for themselves because they, too, are part of the response. And in snow, and in severe weather, we are the first of the first responders, and we take that very seriously.”