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New York Prepares for Up to Half-Foot of Snow; Mayor Vows Better Response

Half a foot (15 centimeters) of snow may fall over the New York region starting today, the second winter storm in two weeks in an area recovering from a post- Christmas blizzard.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, under fire after the Dec. 26-27 storm left some city streets unplowed for a week, pledged an improved response. Crews will be employing video cameras and GPS systems to pinpoint areas of need, the mayor said at a news conference yesterday.

“My grade for the city was ‘unsatisfactory’ and we’re going to do better next time,” Bloomberg said.

The heaviest snowfall is likely in the late afternoon when many people are leaving work, said David Stark, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Upton, New York.

“It should be over early in the evening, especially for the city,” Stark said. “It is really a quick-hitting event.”

Winter storm warnings, watches and advisories stretch from eastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, through New York City and most of Connecticut into Massachusetts and Vermont.

Last week’s storm left 20 inches (51 centimeters) of snow in Central Park, with higher amounts elsewhere across the Northeast. Cleanup costs totaled at least $20 million of New York’s $38.8 million snow-removal budget, according to the Sanitation Department. About 1,100 garbage trucks were used to collect 50,000 tons of piled-up trash.

Smaller Storm

The new storm won’t be as large, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC, a commercial forecaster in Bethesda, Maryland.

“Unlike the last storm, this one won’t have a deep southern moisture feed and it will not be a widespread storm,” Rogers said. “However, if the dynamics are right, there is a chance that some areas could indeed see heavier totals.”

Rogers said he expects the most New York will receive is about 4 inches with higher totals possible on Long Island and north toward Albany.

The band of snow will be about 50 miles (80 kilometers) to 100 miles wide stretching from southern New England to eastern Lake Ontario, according to Matt Rinde, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.

Traffic conditions in the city and its suburbs will likely improve late tonight, AccuWeather said. Some school-related activities may have to be postponed and airline passengers may face delays, the forecaster added.

Extra Rail Services

Long Island Rail Road will provide extra service this afternoon for passengers who want to leave the city early, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said on its website. Buses have already been fitted with chains and preparations made to keep rails free of ice and snow.

Some 1,700 snowplows are ready to help with snow removal, Bloomberg said.

The post-Christmas blizzard shut above-ground New York City subway lines, disrupted travel on Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road commuter trains and stranded holiday travelers at the three major area airports. Almost 8,000 flights were canceled.

US Airways Group Inc., which had to cancel 350 flights on Dec. 26, said in a travel advisory on its website that most passengers affected by today’s storm won’t have to pay change fees if they have to rebook their flights.

Bloomberg said he was “dissatisfied” with the city’s response and promised an inquiry.

Sanitation Workers

Federal and local prosecutors are investigating whether New York sanitation workers deliberately delayed snow removal from streets, according to Diane Struzzi, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Investigation.

Bloomberg’s approval rating following the snowstorm dropped to 37 percent, the lowest since he took office Jan. 1, 2002, a Marist College poll said. For the first time in his nine-year tenure, a majority of voters, 53 percent, said the city was headed “in the wrong direction,” compared with 38 percent who consider it on the right path, the poll said.

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

The new storm brings a chance that pockets of heavy snow, called bands by forecasters, could develop, said Travis Hartman, energy weather manager and meteorologist at commercial forecaster MDA Federal Inc.’s EarthSat Energy Weather in Rockville, Maryland.

Hartman said the bands may mean 10 inches of snow or more on isolated areas.

“Pinpointing where this band will fall exactly is difficult, to say the least,” Hartman said. “Areas outside this heavy snow band or corridor will see much less snow so the gradients will be pretty sharp.”

Boston

Massachusetts, including Boston, will probably receive 24 to 36 hours of light to moderate snow, said Bill Simpson, a weather service meteorologist in Taunton, Massachusetts. Simpson said 2 to 4 inches of snow may fall in the Boston area with as much as 6 inches north and west of the city.

The storm will actually be made up of two low pressure systems, one of which will weaken as the other one strengthens, Simpson said. The timing will determine the total snowfall.

“It’s not like a classic powerful storm coming up the coast,” Simpson said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at Bsullivan10@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net.

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