Cancel any big plans and be prepared to stay home this weekend.
That was the message Mayor Bill de Blasio had for New Yorkers on Thursday as the city prepares to get hit with this winter’s first snowstorm.
RELATED:Blizzard watch in effect for NYC
According to the National Weather Service, New York City is under a blizzard watch starting Saturday morning and will last through Sunday afternoon.
The most recent predictions expect the storm to bring heavy snow, strong winds and coastal flooding in some areas. The city could see a snowfall between 8 to 12 inches.
“The bottom line here is that New Yorkers should be ready for a big storm this weekend, make the precautions now,” de Blasio said.
Along with warning New Yorkers to only leave their homes if necessary and if having to travel to use public transportation, the mayor also outlined the plans the city will take to make sure everything runs smoothly.
The Department of Sanitation is expected to deploy 579 salt spreaders starting Friday night and 1,650 plows will be sent out when more than two inches accumulates.
The agency also has 303,000 tons of rock salt on hand and sanitation workers have been assigned to two 12-hour shifts, with 2,400 workers per shift.
A hazardous travel advisory was also issued, with the gusting winds and snow causing whiteout conditions on the roads, creating a dangerous environment for drivers.
“Anyone that has the illusion they are going to take a big trip on Saturday and Sunday, forget it,” de Blasio said. “People need to take this very seriously and recognize that it’s a real thing.”
During Thursday morning’s announcement, the mayor was questioned about last year’s decision during what was expected to be the biggest storm in history — but shifted its course last minute — to shut down the subway system and ban travel.
De Blasio said that at the time the decisions were made based on what was initially expected from the storm and that the city has “learned some good lessons” after what happened.
He added that there will be more communication and coordination between agencies on the city and state levels.
In regards to public transportation, the MTA announced that the subway and bus system, Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road are preparing for the storm to ensure reliable and safe service. MTA personnel will clear platforms and stairs, while also dropping salt.
All scheduled weekend work has been canceled and the agency has a fleet of snow and ice-busting equipment designed to keep outdoor tracks, switches and third rails clear of snow and ice.
Super-powered snow throwers, jet-powered snow-blowers, and de-icing cars — retired subway cars customized special equipment to spray de-icing fluid on the third rail—will be ready for immediate deployment.
“We have a tremendous investment in equipment, manpower and experience. However, we will only provide service as long as it’s safe to do so,” MTA chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said. There may come a point throughout the winter months when it is no longer prudent to roll out buses or send trains onto some outdoor sections of the lines.”
For this weekend’s storm, de Blasio said the city will continue to monitor the conditions, keep New Yorkers updated on the storm and see what decisions will be made. Schools are expected to be open on Monday and alternate side parking may be canceled.
“We’ve all been lulled to sleep by how warm the winter’s been,” de Blasio said. “Take this very, very seriously. We’re giving people a clear warning early.”