Buses plowed through the snow-covered streets on the northwest Bronx with “not in service” signs, a few pedestrians struggled against the stinging wind, and schools were closed for the day as the first major snowstorm of 2017 hit New York City today.
Before winter storm Niko moved out in the afternoon, it had brought up to 14 inches of snow to the New York area, according to the National Weather Service. The storm came after a spell of unseasonably warm weather a day earlier—an abrupt shift that prompted city services to put Sanitation Department crews on “full alert,” close schools and warn New Yorkers ahead of the storm's arrival, Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference Thursday.
“Yesterday we saw something that I don’t think we’ve ever seen – what felt like a beautiful spring day, no sense that we were in the middle of winter, and then today a full fledge snowstorm,” he said, according to a transcript released by the mayor's office. “This is an unusually fast, intense storm. We wanted to get New Yorkers ready for it.”
The intensity of the storm meant that all Bronx buses were running with delays on Thursday morning, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In Kingsbridge and Riverdale, scores of buses carried “out of service signs.” On the elevated subway ilne of the No. 1 train, maintenance crews were clearing above-ground platforms on Thursday morning, even as heavy snow continued to fall.
The Sanitation Department began sending out snow plows at around 3:30 a.m., and the fleet reached its full force of 2,300 vehicles within the next few hours, Commissioner Kathryn Garcia told a joint news conference with de Blasio.
Where plows had cleared the sidewalks by early morning, a few pedestrians were hurrying along towards their destination—and then slid ankle-deep in snow in areas that the plows were yet to reach.
Along Broadway, a few cars moved slowly in both directions, occasionally skidding in the snow. During what would have been the morning rush hour on an ordinary day, a few pedestrians walked in the middle of Broadway, sharing the road with the cars. Near a bus stop on Broadway and W. 242nd Street, a man stood on the side of the street, trying to hail down a cab. None of the passing drivers stopped, as minutes dragged by.
New York City's Emergency Management Department had warned that the storm would “create slick and hazardous travel conditions... especially during the morning commute.” De Blasio asked New Yorkers to avoid using their cars when going out.
“If people keep their cars off the streets, Sanitation can plow and plow and plow again and get things back to normal,” he told a news conference Thursday.
Public schools and CUNY campuses were closed for the day. Some of the stores that opened for business in the morning displayed signs in their windows, warning they would be closing early.
Local institutions, such as the Hebrew Home for seniors in Riverdale, went into emergency mode. The home had a team of some 30 employees staying overnight to assist elderly residents on Thursday morning, many nurses were doing double shifts, and some “traveled great distances to get here to care for the residents,” Wendy Steinberg, the Hebrew Home's vice president for communications, told The Press in an email.
To see how the what areas of the city have already been plowed, please visit http://maps.nyc.gov/snow/.
To request a city service, contact 311 and call 911 for any emergencies.
Riverdale: How did you fare in the morning’s snow? Send us your photos and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us through Twitter: @riverdalepress or visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/riverdale.press/.