New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a travel ban for New York City due to the blizzard that is slamming the Tri-State area today, and it will stay in place until further notice.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said late today that the National WeatherService now expects 24 to 28 inches of snow to fall on New York City. In Central Park, the snow totaled 19.3 as of 4 p.m., and snow was not expected to taper off for at least another five hours afterward.
Beginning at 2:30 p.m., all New York City roads — as well as all Port Authority bridges and tunnels — were shut down to non-emergency motorists.
Those who are caught on a banned road will receive a summons with the possibility of points on their license and a fine, Cuomo said. Arrests are also possible.
The travel ban was originally expected to continue until midnight, but de Blasio said late this afternoon that it will continue into the early morning hours. The exact time will be revealed later this evening.
Additionally, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad suspended service beginning at 4 p.m. The MTA also suspended service on all above-ground stretches of the subway, also beginning at 4 p.m.
MTA bus service was suspended beginning at noon today due to the deteriorating conditions. It remained unclear when bus service would resume.
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said this afternoon that deicers, jet blowers and other snow-fighting equipment would be in use on the elevated subways while they are closed. He added that he could not be certain when service would resume.
“It’s all about safety. We will provide service for our customers as long as it’s safe to do so,” Ortiz said.
Underground subways remained in service, but the Staten Island Railroad was also out of service, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.
NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill said as of 5:30 p.m., there had been 343 cars towed by the NYPD, and 312 accidents. There had also been three deaths reported from shoveling snow – one on Staten Island and two in Queens.
O’Neill and de Blasio advised that people should not overexert themselves while shoveling snow, and should ask or hire others to do it if necessary.
The mayor advised that everyone should be at home.
“The smart thing to do is to get away from any place that you’re at work; at home from work,” de Blasio said, “If you’re out for any reason doing errands, get home. Get home, get safe.”
De Blasio also advised that businesses should close for the day – so that employees do not run the risk of being left stranded with no buses and no elevated subway service. The violent storm and travel ban has already forced the cancellation of all Broadway shows, both matinees and evening performances, on Saturday.
De Blasio said it was too soon to determine how soon it will be before things get back to normal for the city, or whether New York City public schools will be in session on Monday.
The mayor said in a “worst case scenario” the city could see as much as 30 inches of snow — which he said the city could handle.
He said if the snow tapers off by 9 or 10 p.m., there is a good chance of a strong recovery on Sunday, and everything should be back in action by Monday. But if the worst case scenario prevails, it may be a different story.
“If it goes up to 30 inches, there’s a good chance a lot will be disrupted Monday,” he said.
Cuomo declared a state of emergency for New York.
“There is no reason to be on the roads today unless it is a real emergency,” Cuomo told CBS2. “I don’t care how tough we are as New Yorkers, I don’t care how big the four-wheel drive vehicle, the roads are really dangerous and it’s only going to get worse.”
While earlier anticipated snow totals called for 12 to 18 inches for New York City, new numbers issued at 2 a.m. prompted CBS2’s Lonnie Quinn to raise the likely snow totals to 18 to 24 inches.
Snow fell fast and heavy across the region throughout the day, and some areas, including Central Park, saw accumulations of well over 11 inches by the midday hours.
As CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reported, winds are expected to gust up to 40 to 50 miles per hour at times.
De Blasio issued a Winter Weather Emergency Declaration effective from 8 a.m. through midnight.
The mayor said the storm could drop as much as 1 to 3 inches of snow per hour until as late as 9 or 10 p.m. He said with those predictions, it is very likely this storm will land in the top five biggest snowstorms in the recorded history for New York City.
“That says that people have to take very seriously what’s going on here and recognize there’s a lot of danger and a lot of disruption that’s going to occur because of this storm,” de Blasio said.
As for parents, De Blasio had this warning: “I understand fully kids clamoring for fun in the snow, but my best advice is don’t go out or go out very briefly and keep a very close eye on your kids. There will be time for fun in the snow tomorrow and going forward but right now this is a fast-moving, intensifying storm and it should be treated with that respect.”
A Department of Sanitation snow alert is also in effect for New York City.
Read more at 1010 WINS NEW YORK.