This year started off with hordes of snow and gusts of chilly temperatures in New York City. Two separate storms hit both the East Coast and Midwest this January, causing widespread issues in and around the tri – state area.
Winter Storm Hercules arrived in New York on January 3rd, however continued its onslaught of snow on to the 4th. The storm arrived not long after NYC public school students returned to classes after winter break. Brutal weather conditions hit many states, causing traffic delays and closures. Extremely large amounts of snow were deposited everywhere throughout the East Coast. Some cities have even reported an astonishing 2 feet of snow collected. Ice on roads and sidewalks posed a safety hazard to commuters, especially the elderly and the young.
New York City itself was buried in 6.4 inches of snow. The harsh conditions prompted many closures and delays within New York City transit. The Department of Education decided to close down all public schools after weather conditions worsened in the morning of the 3rd. Although the MTA still had subway service available, some express trains were rerouted to local lines and delays were expected to occur during rush hours. Bus service was also delayed by road conditions and traffic incidents affected by the snow. Most flights from LaGuardia Airport and JFK Airport were suspended or delayed. Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, declared a state of emergency, and urged many New Yorkers to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary. Newly inaugurated NYC mayor Bill de Blasio urged similar precautions for the 8.5 million people living in the city. As New York City’s new mayor for only 2 days, Winter Storm Hercules was considered de Blasio’s first test as the city’s mayor. His handling of the storm generated some positive response from the majority of New Yorkers, in contrast to that of former mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose administration suffered criticism for their slow response during the 2010 Christmas Blizzard. The de Blasio Administration ordered a drastic increase in snowplows in order to clear snow away from the city’s streets. He encouraged people to stay inside and the homeless to seek shelter. Despite these precautions, there were 3 reported weather-related fatalities in New York State. Many more injuries and deaths were also reported in other states in the country.
About two weeks after, on the week of January 19th, Winter Storm Janus also hit the East Coast, with 14 inches of snow falling in New York City. However, even though there was a higher amount of snowfall, it seemed to most people that there was less snow. This may be due to the fact that most of the snowfall occurred in daylight, when the city was able to mobilize more snowplows rapidly. Homeowners and business owners were able to clear most of the snow on the sidewalks before nightfall. Janus began to die down in the evening and was unable to accumulate more snow to replace the cleared amount. Hercules, on the other hand, occurred mostly throughout the night, when most people were inactive and the city’s snowplow response was slower. These may be reasons why school opened the next day – much to the disappointment of hopeful BSGE students.
Regardless of how the city responded to these snowstorms, there are sure to be more snowstorms throughout these first few months of the year – and who knows? Maybe we’ll have another few days off school this year.
Photo Credit: Erin Camia (top), Luis Calpo (bottom)