The Tri-State region is getting hit with another round of winter weather, with a mix of snow and rain moving through the area Thursday into Friday. The National Weather Service has issued watches and warnings for the region, with up to 9 inches of snow expected.
The New York City Department of Sanitation issued a Snow Alert for Thursday, which means Roadway Dining and Open Streets are suspended. Sidewalk dining can still continue. Alternate Side Parking has also been suspended through Saturday and meters will be in effect.
Officials warn the Thursday evening commute will be difficult, with the heaviest snow expected to fall between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
“If you don’t have to drive, please stay off the roads,” NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell said.
The sanitation department says it has 2,000 plow vehicles, 715 salt spreaders, and over 200,000 tons of rock salt on hand, along with plenty of calcium chloride. Roads were pretreated Wednesday night with brine and pre-salting.
Criswell said the city did not foresee any impacts to the vaccine or testing sites, which were operating normally.
Food sites that have the grab-and-go meals are open, but it is recommended to grab additional meals to stay off the roads on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the MTA was also urging customers to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel during the storm.
The MTA said employees would spread salt and clear surfaces of snow and ice, keeping signals, switches, and third rail operating. They said any downed trees that may fall across tracks would be removed as quickly as possible, and they would attend to any weather-related challenges during the storm.
“The very practice of preparing for storms is a critical part of ensuring our customers and employees are safe, which is why we have undertaken extensive planning for winter storms,” said Patrick Warren, MTA Chief Safety and Security Officer and acting Chief Operating Officer of New York City Transit.
Area airports was reporting scores of canceled flights due to weather conditions, and customers were urged to check their flight status with their airline before heading to the airport.
New York City Subway and Staten Island Railway
While the underground portions of the subway system remain unaffected during snowstorms, there are nearly 220 miles of outdoor track throughout the boroughs that are vulnerable to snow and freezing precipitation. To prevent subway trains from being blocked in yards, they may be moved and stored underground in anticipation of heavy snow or ice.
New York City Transit has a fleet of snow and ice-fighting trains designed to keep outdoor tracks, switches and third rails clear of snow and ice. High-powered snow throwers, jet-powered snow-blowers, and de-icing cars — retired subway cars modified with tanks and other specialized equipment to spray de-icing fluid on the third rail — are ready for immediate deployment, and additional employees are at stations and in yards to assist with snow response.
New York City Buses
Articulated buses throughout the city will be parked for the event until storm passes, and local buses will be used. All local buses will be fitted with chains.
Bus managers have technology that tracks headways and service in real time allowing them to make service related decisions more efficiently. Bus service will be adjusted based on road conditions around the city and service curtailments on a route-by-route basis are possible.
New York City Transit and the MTA Bus Company have 35 snow-fighting vehicles in its fleet, which operate on predetermined routes to quickly reach terminals, lay-over locations, and other highly trafficked areas and known hotspots.
MTA Bridges and Tunnels
MTA Bridges and Tunnels personnel have activated full inclement weather preparedness for all facilities and the Operations Command Center Weather Desk will monitor the forecast. A 35-mph speed restriction on all MTA Bridges could be implemented.
Bridges and Tunnels closed pedestrian walkways as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday on the Henry Hudson Bridge, Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and the Cross Bay Veteran’s Memorial Bridge.
Over 6,200 tons of roadway deicer and 115 pieces of storm fighting equipment are available for deployment.
Bridges are equipped with embedded roadway sensors for temperature and above-ground atmospheric sensors that deliver real-time information on wind velocity, wind direction, humidity and precipitation via wireless communication. Additional restrictions may be put in place if conditions warrant. All non-critical roadwork is suspended during the storm, with contractors on-site and/or available to assist with weather-related response.
Any flooding conditions will be closely monitored and appropriate mitigation measures will be put into place as needed.
Metro-North Rail Road is operating on a regular weekday schedule, but customers should anticipate scattered delays due to the weather.
Metro-North is closely monitoring conditions and may further modify or suspend service if snowfall is heavy. In ice storms, blizzards, or sustained winds over 39 mph, train service may be severely curtailed or suspended, especially if there are frozen switches, downed trees, or a loss of third rail or overhead catenary power.
Snow-fighting equipment is winterized, tested, and strategically positioned at facilities around the system. Protective heat circuits are being verified to be operational, air brake lines are being purged of any moisture to prevent them from freezing, and electric trains are being fitted with special third rail shoes to prevent snow from accumulating.
Metro-North Railroad installed third rail scraper shoes on its electric trains to clear snow/ice off electrified third rails, is shrouding exposed train couplers with snow covers, is treating exposed shoes with deicer, and is spraying door panels with anti-freeze agent.
Switches — the interlocking tracks that allow rail traffic controllers to route trains from one track to another — are being treated with an anti-freeze agent and lubricated. Metro-North Railroad uses electric switch heaters to melt snow.
Long Island Rail Road
The LIRR is closely monitoring weather forecasts and is planning to run normal schedules throughout the duration of the storm. If snowfall becomes heavy, delays and/or service changes (including temporary suspensions), may occur.
LIRR station waiting rooms are open 24/7, with normal station waiting room hours scheduled to resume on Saturday, Feb. 20.
Typically, in ice storms, blizzards, or sustained winds over 39 mph, train service may be severely curtailed or suspended, especially if there are frozen switches or there is a loss of third rail power.
Railroad crews are out across the service territory working to keep trains moving for those who need them. De-icing trains are running to keep rails clear of snow and ice, while crews are strategically positioned throughout the system helping to keep switches clear and operable.
Those who must travel are urged to be cautious on station staircases/platforms and when boarding/exiting trains. Customers are encouraged to check the LIRR TrainTime app, MyMTA app, or new.mta.info. Customers can chat live with LIRR customer service agents daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. through the LIRR TrainTime app for any service-related questions.
Access-A-Ride paratransit will continue to provide service. Trips are non-shared ride, and feeder service is suspended. Customers may experience additional delays and wait times. Customers may want to consider adjusting or canceling their travel plans. The Paratransit Command Center will be monitoring the storm to track and respond to any customer or day of service issues. Please be advised we will operate one day in advance reservations.
The Long Island Expressway in Roslyn wasn’t too snow-covered, but the secondary roads like Jericho Turnpike and I.U. Willets Road in Nassau County had a coating.
The salt trucks and plows battered after last week’s storm are all fixed now and keeping up with the pace of the snowfall.
“This one is a little more mellow, there’s not much wind, we’re not expecting flooding along the coast, which is good news,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “So we’re in as good shape as could possibly be.”