It was supposed to be “the historic storm that was,” one of the “biggest in half a century” in New York City.
By 9pm Monday night Mayor Bill DeBlasio had ordered all vehicles off the streets by 11pm, warning there would be certain punishment for citizens who disobeyed. The snow plows would need room to move, he said; salt trucks would have to be able to get through to keep the slippery streets safe. Emergency vehicles would need a clear path to be able to get by to help those who were stuck around the city.
Residents were told to “stock up” just to make sure, in case their electricity went out or the stores stayed closed. Thousands of tax dollars were spent on city preparations for the big event.
But as morning dawned Tuesday, New Yorkers discovered they were not really snowed in at all. In fact, there was little more than a coating of the white stuff on lawns in front of most homes around town. Most areas in the Big Apple were barely covered in fact, with only 5.5 inches (13 cm), max, seen in the city’s Central Park.
Grim weather forecasts were quickly downgraded (“oops!”) and the city’s transport bans were quietly lifted even as blizzard warnings remained in effect along the New England coast from Long Island to Maine.
All nine MTA bridges and tunnels are already open to traffic, according to the MTA website. The Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, NYC Transit Bus and Subway Service and Staten Island Ferry were all gradually being restored on a Sunday schedule Tuesday, with full weekday service to return by Wednesday.
Unapologetic, “This is a better-safe-than-sorry scenario,” de Blasio told CNN. “We did what was necessary to keep everyone safe.” Public transportation is expected to return to normal in New York City on Wednesday, officials added.
The situation was not nearly as rosy elsewhere along the eastern seaboard. At least 7,500 flights have been canceled at airports along the coast, both for arrivals and departures. Schools remain closed up and down the coast as well.
More than two feet of snow (60 cm) dropped in Massachusetts alone, where thousands are still without power local media report, and Connecticut saw nearly as much, 20.5 inches (52 cm).
The National Weather Service warned at midday Tuesday there were still life-threatening conditions along the New England coastline with gale-force winds and almost zero visibility in New Hampshire.