NYC faces biggest snowstorm in two years: What you need to know

New York City is bracing for a powerful winter storm that could bring up to six inches of snow and disrupt travel and school operations. The storm is expected to hit the city on Tuesday morning, with heavy snowfall and gusty winds. Here are some important things you need to know about the storm and how to prepare for it.


How much snow will fall and when?

According to the National Weather Service, the storm could start as early as Monday night, but the heaviest snow is likely to fall between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesday. The snow could fall at a rate of one to two inches per hour during the morning commute, creating hazardous driving conditions and low visibility. The snow will gradually taper off in the afternoon, but some flurries could linger until Wednesday morning.

The total snow accumulation could range from four to six inches in most parts of the city, with some isolated areas getting up to eight inches. This would be the city’s largest snowstorm since January 2022, when 6.4 inches of snow fell in Central Park. The average snowfall for February in New York City is 9.2 inches, but so far this month, only 0.4 inches have been recorded.

How will the storm affect schools and transportation?

Mayor Eric Adams announced on Monday that all public schools in the city will switch to remote learning on Tuesday, due to the storm. Students will not have a snow day, but will be expected to log on to their online platforms and attend classes virtually. However, some students may face technical difficulties accessing their accounts, as some did during the last storm in January, when the IBM-run authentication system malfunctioned.

The mayor also urged New Yorkers to avoid unnecessary travel and to use mass transit if possible. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it will run normal weekday service on subways and buses, but warned of possible delays and cancellations due to the weather. The MTA also said it will activate its snow-fighting equipment and deploy extra personnel to clear snow and ice from tracks, stations, and bus stops.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it will have hundreds of snow plows and other equipment ready at its airports, bridges, tunnels, and terminals. However, travelers should expect flight disruptions and check with their airlines before heading to the airport. The agency also advised drivers to reduce speed and exercise caution on the roads.

How to stay safe and warm during the storm?

The NYC Office of Emergency Management issued a travel advisory and a code blue alert for the city, meaning that anyone who is homeless or in need of shelter can call 311 or go to any of the city’s drop-in centers, which will be open 24/7. The agency also reminded New Yorkers to check on their neighbors, especially the elderly and those with disabilities, and to report any power outages or gas leaks to 311 or their utility company.

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene advised residents to dress warmly, stay hydrated, and avoid alcohol during the storm. The agency also warned of the risk of hypothermia and frostbite, especially for children, seniors, and those with chronic medical conditions. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, and drowsiness, while symptoms of frostbite include numbness, tingling, and bluish or pale skin. If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, call 911 or seek medical attention immediately.

The NYC Department of Sanitation said it will deploy more than 2,000 plows and 700 salt spreaders to clear the city’s streets and sidewalks. The agency also reminded property owners to shovel their sidewalks within four hours after the snow stops falling, or face fines ranging from $100 to $350. The agency also urged residents to shovel safely, by wearing layers, taking breaks, and lifting small amounts of snow at a time.

How to enjoy the snow and have fun?

Despite the challenges and inconveniences that the storm may bring, some New Yorkers may also find ways to enjoy the snow and have fun. The NYC Parks Department said it will open its sledding hills and provide free sleds to the public, as long as there is at least six inches of snow on the ground. The department also encouraged residents to build snowmen, make snow angels, and have snowball fights, while following the COVID-19 safety guidelines of wearing masks, keeping distance, and avoiding large gatherings.

The department also announced a snow sculpture contest, where residents can submit photos of their creations to the department’s website or social media accounts, using the hashtag #NYCSnowSculpting. The contest will run until February 28, and the winners will receive prizes such as gift cards, merchandise, and park passes.

The storm may also offer some scenic views and photo opportunities for those who appreciate the beauty of nature. The snow may create a winter wonderland effect in the city’s parks, bridges, and landmarks, as well as a contrast with the city’s skyscrapers, neon lights, and street art. The snow may also attract some wildlife to the city, such as birds, squirrels, and deer, which may be spotted in the parks or even on the streets.

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