City digs out after blizzard

Packed 20th Street Loops after the blizzard

Packed 20th Street Loop after the blizzard (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After last year’s fake-out for a “historic” snowstorm that dropped a mere nine inches on the city instead of the predicted three feet, the de Blasio administration was more cautious with the hyperbole preceding last week’s storm.

This time, though, the blizzard delivered: last week’s storm brought the second biggest snowfall since the city started recording the data in 1869, only a tenth of an inch less than the biggest in 2006, with 26.8 inches measured in Central Park by the time the storm dissipated on Saturday night.

The mayor issued a travel ban on all non-emergency vehicles at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday when the forecasts were predicting 20 to 25 inches of snow. While the governor shut down the subway completely in anticipation of last year’s storm, subway service remained at least partially available for the duration of the blizzard, although the MTA did ultimately shut down bus service at noon and service at aboveground subway stations at 4 p.m.

The travel ban was lifted by 7 a.m. on Sunday and bus and Access-A-Ride service was restored as of 7:45 a.m. Outdoor subway service was restored on all lines except the A, Q, N, L and the Franklin Avenue Shuttle by 9 a.m. on Sunday. The mayor announced on Monday that Alternate Side Parking would be suspended until next week to facilitate snow removal.

Vera and Patrick Hutchins

Vera and Patrick Hutchins

“To bounce back from this record storm, we need drivers to continue staying off the roads,” the mayor said. “This suspension of alternate side parking will ensure we can limit any unnecessary traffic so our sanitation crews can do what they do best.”

The mayor’s office reported on Monday that DSNY had plowed 97 percent of streets at least once since the end of the storm. The mayor also issued a travel advisory through this Friday night for potential black ice as nighttime temperatures drop to near or below freezing.

On Saturday evening, Stuyvesant Town’s new general manager Rick Hayduk sent out a status report to residents on the snow removal process, which had been ongoing since the storm began. The snow removal team, he said, was operating machinery and shovels to keep the pathways and roads clear.

Alexi Lubormiski and his son

Alexi Lubormiski and his son

Hayduk said in another notice on Sunday that 75 to 80 percent of the snow had been removed but clearance was slowed due to the volume of the snow. He noted that some vehicles double parked on the loop roads were towed to ensure that emergency vehicles could get through.

As usual following any significant snowfall, the sledding spots in Stuyvesant Town were packed with families. Many were residents of the complex but East Village resident Alexi Lubomirski said that the 20th Street Loop’s reputation is well-known even outside ST/PCV.

“We were getting our winter coats at Paragon when someone there told us that this was the place to be for sledding in the city,” he said.

John Israel, who lives in Peter Cooper Village, wasn’t surprised to see the hills so packed with residents and non-residents alike.

“This is the big sledding spot below Central Park,” he said. “All the other parks in the neighborhood are too flat.”

Kids sled from the top of the hill on the 20th Street Loop

Kids sled from the top of the hill on the 20th Street Loop

Some news outlets were reporting that kids were braving the snow in the midst of the storm by sledding in Central Park on Saturday afternoon. Israel, like other ST/PCV residents that T&V spoke with on Sunday, waited until the snow let up to get out the sleds. Lubomirski stayed in with his son for some weather-appropriate cinema with a showing of the animated hit, “Frozen.”

John Hutchins, who has lived in Stuy Town for nine years, took his 7-year-old twins Patrick and Vera out on Saturday morning before the storm intensified to make snow angels, but said that they spent most of the blizzard hunkered down and tracking the storm.

“They got a little snow last year so they were really excited to come out again,” he said.

Meteorologists were reporting earlier this week that more snow was possible for the upcoming weekend, but AccuWeather reported on Wednesday that a weaker system will push the storm farther out to sea.

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