Local authorities from New York City to Maine are working to battle what forecasters said could be the biggest blizzard in a century for some cities. Journalists from The Times are monitoring the storm and will be providing updates. Related Article
Nicole Bengiveno/The New York TimesJustin Bieber fans lined up in the slop outside NBC Studios in Rockefeller Center Friday for a chance at tickets to see him on “Saturday Night Live.”
Even as the mayor was urging the homeless to get off the streets and into the safety of a shelter, an encampment grew at Rockefeller Center Friday afternoon.
Its inhabitants were waiting outside NBC studios for tickets to see Justin Bieber on “Saturday Night Live.”
At the front of the line were three teenage girls from Buffalo. They arrived at 11 p.m. Thursday night after taking a 2 a.m. bus out of the Queen City, spent the night under a tarp in their pile of sleeping bags and blankets, and awoke to a storm of media attention. When “Entertainment Tonight” came by, they were asked to shout “Beiber Blizzard!” into the camera.
Two of the girls, Tanya Smithers and Brandi Kriegbaum, both 18, were on their first visit to New York City. Though they were excited to have a chance to see the object of their affections, they pronounced themselves unimpressed by the weather.
Buffalo, Ms. Smithers said, is “a million times worse.” The third Buffalo Belieber, Nikki Ciura, 17, echoed her friend. “If this is what you call a blizzard,” she said, “it’s not a blizzard. It’s a good day.”
Despite their prime spot, the young women were not even guaranteed tickets. The ones that scheduled to be handed out at 11 p.m. tonight are standby tickets.
But neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor the possibility of failure would budge them the line.
“We’ve been here long enough,” Ms. Kriegbaum said. “Too long to give up.”
New Jersey Transit said it would suspend much of its rail and bus service by 8 p.m. on Friday.
At that time, the Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton train lines and all Midtown Direct train service will stop. The trains will remain offline into Saturday, the agency said, noting that it takes at least 12 hours to restore rail service after a suspension.
Bus service in northern and central New Jersey will also end at 8 p.m., including all routes to Port Authority Bus Terminal and the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it would need to reduce Metro-North Railroad service more than it had expected because of the likely severity of the storm.
Train service was already expected to be scaled back between 5:30 and 8 p.m. But now, from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m., the authority said that trains on its New Haven and Harlem Lines would operate on a half-hourly basis out of Grand Central, and trains going toward Grand Central on an hourly basis.
The authority said steeper service reductions remained possible as the storm approached.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York declared a state of emergency Friday evening. But at a news conference, he said that while the storm was expected to cause problems, including widespread power disruptions, the people of the state had recently lived through much worse.
“This is a serious, severe storm, but we just went though some really terrible storms with Hurricane Sandy,” he said. “We are not anticipating anything like that.”
Mr. Cuomo announced that area airports would stop operations Friday night, with John F. Kennedy International already making the decision to close at 6 p.m.
With the storm just picking up in intensity, he said there were already 3,000 people without power.
By midafternoon Friday, some gas stations on Staten Island and in Queens were reporting that they had run out of gas, said Ralph Bombardiere, executive director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops. Gas stations on Long Island and in New Jersey had reported running out earlier in the day.
But Mr. Bombardiere said that he did not expect to see the shortages or long gas lines that came with Hurricane Sandy because regional terminals remained open and had sufficient supplies of gas to refuel stations that had run out. He said any problems should be resolved by Monday or Tuesday.
“I think it’s a short-term situation,” he said. “We’re going to get the snowstorm and people are not going to be able to travel, and that will give the stations time to get resupplied.”
On Friday afternoon, the Web site GasBuddy.com started tracking gas supply at local stations in the Northeast ahead of the storm — marking stations with gas in green, and without gas in red. It updated a popular page that it had used to track gas supply during Hurricane Sandy.
Marcus Yam for The New York TimesA deliveryman for Fairway supermarket wheeled supplies to customers on the Upper West Side of Manhattan Friday afternoon.
Perhaps in any other year, the nor’easter would have been met with little more than a shrug. Sure, some people would still have stocked up on batteries, water, food and snow shovels. But even they would have salted these purchases with knowing complaints about too much hype.
This year is different. Not even three months after Hurricane Sandy destroyed thousands of homes, businesses and cars, and stripped millions of residents of power, the rites of disaster preparation are tinged by a fresh sense of vulnerability in a region that has learned not to underestimate mother nature.
So on Friday, as the snow-choked storm system moved ever closer to the New York area, there was a palpable sense of urgency in the air. Idling cars stretched from gas stations, some of which ran out of fuel. Supermarket lines extended out doors, and shelves emptied. Generators were prepared for possible power failures. And many of these disaster-ready residents wrestled openly with another worry: that a minor storm would make all these preparations seem over the top. Read more …
Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesThe subway system is expected to keep running for the duration of the storm, but some lines may be suspended, officials warned Friday.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Friday afternoon that the storm could require the suspension of service for portions of subway, bus and commuter train lines.
At the very least, some express subway trains will be suspended after the Friday rush hour. Local trains that are not required for service will be stored underground along express tracks across the system, in an effort to prevent them from being trapped inside yards by drifting snow.
The No. 7 will also have limited service on Friday night, running only between Main Street and Queensboro Plaza in Queens, with a shuttle from Queensboro Plaza to Vernon-Jackson Avenues. It will not run at all in Manhattan.
Though underground portions of the system are unlikely to be affected by the storm, stretches of the nearly 220 miles of outdoor track could be vulnerable. The authority named the Sea Beach section of the N train, the Brighton section of the B and Q, and the Dyre Avenue stretch of the No. 5 as among the most susceptible areas.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that bus service could also be curtailed.
Long Island Rail Road service will stop if snow accumulations reach 10 to 13 inches, the authority said, and riders were urged to leave for eastbound trips in the early afternoon.
Metro-North Railroad said it was scheduling extra trains in the early afternoon, but reducing service during the evening peak.
All across Westchester County — just as in most of the New York area — people were abandoning routines and stocking up — on gas, on food, on batteries, on melting salt.
At the Stop & Shop in Larchmont, Jim Schriber, 61, was stocking up on cans of organic vegetable soup for his daughter, Hannah, an 18-year-old student at Mamaroneck High School. She is a vegetarian and particularly savors Amy’s Organic Soups, most especially the rustic Italian vegetable. He dropped a half-dozen cans in his cart.
“The last time, we ran out of power and deliveries to the supermarket stopped,” he said, recalling the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
At Brewer’s Hardware, a Mamaroneck fixture since 1879, Jim Wendling, 65, a retired New York City deputy fire chief, was at the counter paying for see-through tarps. He has a screened-in porch, and he wanted to cover it with the tarps to make sure “the wind-driven snow won’t fill up the porch.” He is also keeping the house extra warm in case the house loses power; he figures the heat will last longer that way. But he was also bringing in firewood from the outdoors so it has time to dry should he need a fire for warmth. All these prudent steps were motivated by his experience during Hurricane Sandy when he lost power for 12 days.
Anthony Lividini, the manager, said he was selling far more blizzard and power-failure supplies, including generators, which in his store run between $499 and $1,299.
“Years ago we sold maybe one a year,” he said. “In the past few years it’s 50 or 60 a year and its going up since Sandy. People are getting nervous and coming out early because after Sandy they were unable to get supplies.”
Benjamin Norman for The New York TimesDuring a news conference held at the city’s Office of Emergency Management in Brooklyn, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg urged New Yorkers to stay indoors.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg urged New Yorkers to stay off the roads and out of harm’s way but otherwise did not sound any urgent alarms in an afternoon news conference.
Mr. Bloomberg said that the subway system was expected to operate normally through rush hour, but that some subway lines could operate as locals thereafter. He added that some bus service “may be curtailed” as the storm arrives.
“The supply is adequate,” the mayor said. “We’ve checked with all the big distributors.”
And he noted that all after-school activities and sports games were canceled for Friday and Saturday. So are filming permits.
Parking meters, though, still need to be fed for the rest of the day, though not tomorrow.
Other than that, Mr. Bloomberg said, “What’s a good idea? Cook a meal, stay home, read a good book, watch a movie, just take it easy.” He added, “What would be great is if you left work early today, got home, parked your car in a legal parking place, and if you have to go around use mass transit.”
Asked about his personal plans for the storm, the mayor said: “I will be home tonight, you can rest assured. Will I cook or get something from the Greek diner around the corner? I haven’t thought about that yet.”
If you need to drive in New York City, consult the city’s Official PlowNYC Web site, intended to allow the public to track the progress of spreader and plow vehicles and to confirm the designation of city streets (i.e., primary, secondary, tertiary or non-DSNY), which determine their priority in snow removal.
Snow swirled over Portsmouth, N.H., on Friday, but the streets of this neat red-brick city of about 22,000 were edged with cars and a steady stream of pedestrians, many of whom were positively chipper about the snowstorm.
“We haven’t had this kind of snow in a few years,” said Nola Cady, who had come here from her home on the coast of York, Me., for coffee and window-shopping.
“Two feet of snow, two inches an hour — why not?” her companion, Greg Russell, said of the excursion.
The pair was hoping to embark on another adventure in Mr. Russell’s pickup truck Saturday morning. They weren’t planning to heed officials’ cautions against travel during the storm, although Mr. Russell nonchalantly admitted they might not have a choice.READ MORE
In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick banned all vehicle traffic from all roads in the state as of 4 p.m. Friday. He had earlier requested all traffic off the roads as of noon.
As noon came and went, little snow had stuck to the roadways, but the governor said at a 12:30 p.m. news conference that the storm was going to be every bit as bad as predicted and changed his request to stay off the roads to a mandatory order.
“Two or three feet of snow is a profoundly different kind of storm than we have dealt with,” the governor said from the state’s emergency bunker in Framingham.
Officials recalled only one previous such ban, in the aftermath of the blizzard of 1978, when more than 27 inches of snow paralyzed the region. The penalty for violating the traffic ban is up to one year in prison and a fine.
In the early afternoon at Newark Liberty International Airport, some planes were being de-iced before takeoff, but many travelers were still arriving and departing without major delays. The runways were clear of snow, and the outbound passengers remained hopeful.
Just before noon, a USAirways flight from Charlotte, N.C., arrived at Terminal A a few minutes ahead of schedule while a cloud of spray from a de-icing truck enveloped a propeller jet near an adjacent gate.
Some passengers with tickets for flights out of Newark later in the day lined up at counters to try to switch to earlier departures to beat the heavy snowfall that was forecast. The only tension surrounded several power stations where all of the outlets for recharging cellphones and laptop computers were in constant use.
In Connecticut, state officials are warning residents to stay home. For those who must report to work, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy urged people to try to leave as early as possible – before it’s too late. The governor, speaking in a news briefing on Friday, said that the roads could be closed at any time after noon. If drivers were not already on their way home, he said, “You should be.”
Detailing other possible transportation closings, he said that the mass transit system was susceptible to being closed “at any point from now on,” he said, speaking just after 12 p.m. Buses would be off the roads by 6 p.m., he said, though that might happen earlier depending on the road conditions.READ MORE
Shannon Stapleton/ReutersCars lined up outside a Getty station in Manhasset, N.Y., on Friday morning.
In a replay of one of the most enduring images from Hurricane Sandy, gas stations across the New York region reported that lines started forming at the pumps on Thursday evening and continued through Friday morning. Although wait times exceeded an hour or more at some stations, owners and attendants said the lines were not as bad as they had been in the days after Hurricane Sandy, when widespread gas shortages forced both New Jersey and New York to take emergency measures to ration the supply.
By noon Friday, some stations on Long Island and in New Jersey reported they had run out of gas. At a Shell station in Jericho, N.Y., Andy Harris, the station owner, said that he had sold more than 12,000 gallons of gas in the past 24 hours — more than double his usual sales. He said he expected to run out of gas by mid-afternoon. “We’re seeing tremendous panic buying because Superstorm Sandy is on everybody’s minds,” Mr. Harris said.
In Far Rockaway, one of the areas most badly damaged by the hurricane, Lavel Samuels, 42, an aircraft technician who had lost power and water for weeks, said that recent experience inspired him to fill up his black S.U.V. as a precautionary measure. “I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as they’re saying, but I said that with Sandy too,” he said. “I’m filling up based on my experience with Sandy, in case there’s no gas on Sunday or Monday.”
At the Shell station on Beach 59th Street, some motorists also filled red spare gas tanks in their trunks for generators they bought to survive the post-hurricane power failures. Josephine Perkins, 55, who is retired, said she had her generators ready and was stocking up on fuel. “If you get snowed in you just stay inside and ride it out,” she said. “We’re used to this now.”
Yana Paskova for The New York TimesOn the first day of New York Fashion Week, the news came of a potentially crippling snowstorm in the Northeast.
Designers, like everyone else in the city, were keeping a close eye on the weather Friday morning as the Northeast braced for a potentially crippling snowstorm,reports our colleague Eric Wilson.
“Even if the storm’s impact on New York is minimal, designers were warning that their shows might be delayed at Fashion Week. At the very least, it will be difficult for the hundreds of retailers, editors, models and makeup artists to get around Manhattan during shows scheduled Friday through 10 p.m. Especially if they are not wearing sensible shoes, which forecasts indicate has a possibility of 100 percent.”
The effects of Hurricane Sandy on the Long Island Power Authority were already evident as preparations began for the coming snowstorm.
Having been faulted for its poor handling of the hurricane and previous storms, especially its communications with customers and elected officials, the power authority has abdicated those tasks. During this storm, National Grid, the utility company that operates the power grid on Long Island, is doing the talking.
In response to a reporter’s inquiry on Thursday, Wendy Ladd, a spokeswoman for National Grid in Hicksville, said that “we will be the lead on the communication effort through the duration” of this storm. The shift was evident on the power authority’s Web site, which mentioned National Grid prominently in an advisory that said that workers had been called in from outside the authority’s territory to help repair damage cause by the storm.
“The expected heavy snow and strong winds could potentially bring down tree limbs onto power lines and cause power outages,” the advisory said. “In the event there are power outages caused by the storm, we expect that most power will be restored with in 24 hours, but some outage could extend beyond that.”
The power authority received harsh criticism after some customers were without power for as long as two weeks in November after Hurricane Sandy hit. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appointed a Moreland Commission to investigate the power authority, and the commission recommended that it be dissolved and management of Long Island’s grid be turned over to a private utility. National Grid’s contract to operate the system is scheduled to expire at year-end.
Elise Amendola/Associated PressA warning sign flashed for motorists heading into Boston as snow began to fall early on Friday morning.
In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency as of noon on Friday. He called for all cars to be off the streets by then, saying he would wait to see how badly conditions deteriorated before determining whether to make this request a mandatory order. Tandem trailers and propane trucks were banned from state highways.
Boston’s public transit system, including subways, buses and commuter rail lines, will shut down at 3:30 p.m. Friday, meaning that the last subways will leave downtown at that time.
Almost all schools across the state were closed Friday, including the public schools in Boston as well as Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Airlines canceled more than 4,000 flights starting Friday afternoon. Governor Patrick told nonemergency government workers to stay home and urged private employers to issue similar stay-at-home orders.
He said the storm would be the heaviest between 2 and 5 pm Friday; forecasters said snow would accumulate at a rate of up to 2 or 3 inches per hour.
More than 1,000 members of the National Guard were deployed on Friday with up to 6,000 preparing to move into place on Saturday.
In northern New Jersey, the wet snow was piling up steadily, with about two inches on the ground by 11 a.m. Schools across the state announced that they would close early Friday afternoon, or had canceled after-school activities, and in some cases, college admissions tests that were scheduled on Saturday morning.
With Hurricane Sandy and its power failures and long lines for gas fresh on their minds, people began crowding gas stations Thursday evening, filling gas cans for generators as well as car tanks. By Friday morning, lines were long and there was enough confusion that the police arrived to help maintain order in some communities. People crowded supermarkets, too, where workers were busy replenishing shelves stripped of bottled water.
Along the Jersey Shore and south of Interstate 78, where the hurricane hit hardest, there was only rain on Friday morning. But seas were rough, and forecasters warned that there could be coastal flooding at high tide, scheduled to hit around 6 p.m. Friday. In Bradley Beach, front-end loaders worked along the shore Friday morning, creating a sand berm to try to guard against the waves.
New Jersey Transit had canceled some trains scheduled for Friday evening, and urged commuters to travel early to avoid storm-related problems.
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