By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Despite the dire predictions for a “potentially historic” blizzard that was expected to drop at least two feet of snow on the city this week, New York was spared most of Juno’s wrath in the recent storm, with a paltry 10 inches recorded in Central Park by Tuesday.
Without knowing beforehand that their preparations were mostly for naught however, area residents and politicians alike prepared for the worst. Local grocery stores could not be reached for comment on the state of their inventory ahead of the storm on Monday, but the Trader Joe’s on Sixth Avenue at West 22nd Street, packed on a regular day, had a line just to get into the store throughout the afternoon. An employee herding people in slowly said that it was about a five to 10 minute wait just to make it inside. Most likely due to the subway’s closure, many stores in the area weren’t open on Tuesday morning but some, including Trader Joe’s and Home Depot, had makeshift signs in the window early Tuesday afternoon noting that they would be opening later in the day.
A rep for CW Capital told Town & Village that management began clearing the perimeter of the property, the four Loop roads, Peter Cooper Road, terrace entrances and main entrances to each building on Monday afternoon and many of the pathways around the complex had been salted before too much snow had accumulated.
The Loop roads had been mostly plowed by the time the snow was tapering off early Tuesday afternoon. The 20th Street Loop had slowed vehicle traffic but primarily because the crowds of families sledding down the nearby hills occasionally slid into the road and others were standing guard to make sure the few vehicles going through progressed slowly.
A number of community organizations cancelled upcoming events as the storm was beginning on Monday. Community Board 6 cancelled the public safety and environment meeting that was supposed to take place on Monday evening and also cancelled Tuesday night’s health and education committee meeting. Marble Collegiate Church on West 29th Street sent out a notice on Monday afternoon that their offices were closed and events scheduled for Monday and Tuesday were cancelled.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday afternoon that public schools would be closed on Tuesday, but once it became clear that the city had escaped the worst of the snow, schools re-opened on Wednesday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the MTA was reducing service at 7 p.m. on Monday night, partially because the subway cars needed to be safely stored. The mayor revealed at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon that he didn’t find out about this decision until not long before the governor announced the plan, but he felt that it was a necessary precaution.
Roads were closed beginning at 11 p.m. on Monday to all non-emergency vehicles but when it became clear that the worst of the storm would be bypassing the city, the travel ban was lifted at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Limited subway service started up again at 9 a.m. the morning after the storm, amidst the last of the flurries.
The New York Post reported following the storm that meteorologists were feeling a bit guilty after New York was spared since the weathermen had been so wrong with their predictions of 20 to 30 inches of snow. National Weather Service metereologist Gary Szatkowki sent out a series of tweets apologizing for the “forecast miss” just after midnight on Tuesday and other regional weathermen and women sent out apologies later in the day for missing the mark.
Both the mayor and governor said they had no regrets about the precautions they took, though, including the closure of the subway system. De Blasio noted that the storm was actually as harsh as it was predicted to be but all the snow ended up in Boston, with the city getting over two feet of snow.
“The bottom line is, we got lucky,” the mayor told reporters on Tuesday afternoon. “Things turned out a lot better than we feared, but we were prepared. The people of this city responded exactly the right way. They looked out for each other. They heeded the warnings. And that had allowed us to do what we needed to do to keep people safe.”
Stuyvesant Town resident Susan Steinberg said ahead of the storm that she wasn’t sure if she believed the hype about how much snow was predicted.
“They’re getting more accurate with their forecasts but sometimes it stops before the snow accumulates as much as they say,” she said. But she added that despite missing a meeting and not being able to use tickets she had for a Broadway play, she wasn’t upset about the possibility of being snowed in.
“I have plenty of reading material to catch up on,” she said.
CB6 chair and Stuy Town resident Sandro Sherrod had also tried to think positively about the thought of being buried after the storm. “It’s good that everyone is taking precautions but if nothing else, it makes us even more prepared for future storms,” he said. “And at least the kids will have hills to sled down and can have snowball fights.”