Mayor Bill de Blasio Defends Traffic Ban During the #BlizzardOf2015

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that "We got lucky. Things turned out a lot better than we feared, but we were prepared."
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that "We got lucky. Things turned out a lot better than we feared, but we were prepared."

Update, 12:11 p.m. With New York having seen much less snow than anticipated, Mayor Bill de Blasio is defending the decision to institute a travel ban on all non-emergency vehicles — even food delivery bicycles — throughout the city. "The bottom line is, we got lucky," de Blasio said during a press conference on Tuesday. "Would you rather be ahead of the action or behind?...To me it was a no-brainer: We had to take precautions to keep people safe."

While New York City saw only about eight inches of snow, nearby counties on Long Island got about two feet, he said. "You can't be a Monday-morning quarterback on something like the weather.

"The good news is people took the travel ban seriously," de Blasio added, saying that because people stayed inside, snowplows were able to clear the streets quickly overnight. "That allowed the Sanitation Department to do an extraordinary job."

No summonses or arrests were issued for anyone violating the travel ban, according to police, who pointed to successfully emptied streets.

Parks throughout the city are now open, and public schools will be open again tomorrow.

"Was I heavily lobbied by a certain public school student? Yes," says de Blasio. "[My son] Dante made his best attempt to convince me schools should be closed tomorrow. But his attempt failed."


New Yorkers deal with it on Monday afternoon.
New Yorkers deal with it on Monday afternoon.
Photo by C.S. Muncy for the Village Voice

Update, 11:49 a.m. Shovelers in Brooklyn on the morning of January 27 didn't get the massive pile of snow they were told to expect. Predictions of a massive earth-freezing Day After Tomorrow–like scenario were proved wrong as about eight inches fell in Central Park, according to spotters. The storm's center wound up about 50 miles east of expectations, which led to heavier snow on Long Island and Connecticut while New York City was spared, relatively speaking.

Mike Eber clears the snow in front of his staircase after Winter Storm Juno's mediocre performance in Brooklyn.
Mike Eber clears the snow in front of his staircase after Winter Storm Juno's mediocre performance in Brooklyn.
Katie Toth, Village Voice

"I was hoping for much more," says Mike Eber, 33. "But I still get a snow day out of it!"

Brent Cunningham was relieved that he wouldn't have to dig his car out before he took his three-year-old — who had been inside for two days — to play group: "She needs to go."

Cunningham, 41, was unfazed by the off-base predictions from meteorologists about the storm last night. "They always get it wrong," he says. "Every time they predict a huge storm, I always take it with a grain of salt. No pun intended."

The National Weather Service, on the other hand, is taking the misfire seriously. According to the Associated Press, the federal agency will re-evaluate how it models storms and try to figure out what went wrong with yesterday's predictions.

The lackluster performance of #BlizzardOf2015 has also drawn the ire of some on social media:


Update, 8:42 a.m. Subways will resume service at 9 a.m. and operate on a Sunday schedule by noon. Subways will be back on the weekday schedule Wednesday.

From the MTA:

MTA Long Island Rail Road, MTA Metro-North Railroad, MTA NYC Transit Bus and Subway Service — including Staten Island Railway (SIR) will be gradually restored this morning. All service will operate on a Sunday schedule for today, Tuesday, January 27th. Final assessments on the bus, rail and subway network are being performed in anticipation of the restoration of service.

From Cuomo:

Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road trains will resume service and also be on a Sunday schedule around noon:

And driving? From de Blasio:


A rare sight: An empty Grand Central Station
A rare sight: An empty Grand Central Station

#BlizzardOf2015 By the Numbers:

20–30 — Predicted snow accumulation, in inches, between January 26 through the evening of January 27.

65 — Expected mph strength of the most violent wind gusts.

2,400 — Number of sanitation workers on duty working to clear and salt the streets throughout the five boroughs. 1,800 — Number of plows outfitted onto Department of Sanitation vehicles.

500 — Number of salt-spreaders that will be deployed.

126,000 — Tons of salt at the ready.

1,717 — Total flight cancellations at New York City's three major airports.

26 — Trains designated as "early escape" lines, designed to get commuters out of the city before 5 p.m. (Long Island Rail will have eight; Metro-North will have eighteen.)

380 — Number of ambulances on duty with the FDNY having added 110 active vehicles for the evening.

500 — Number of additional firefighters called to duty (one added to each engine company).

2 — NBA games that were scheduled to be played on Monday night.

0 — Number of NBA games that are actually being played on Monday night.


Update, 6:45 p.m.

The Broadway League has canceled all performances scheduled for tonight. The announcement did not include any information about Tuesday's performances. Meanwhile, the

Associated Press is reporting

that Manhattan's

Birdland Jazz Club

has canceled its performances for tonight, and the New York Philharmonic has already canceled two planned open rehearsals. Comedian Louis C.K. has

written a letter to ticket holders

for his Tuesday night performance at Madison Square Garden announcing that the show is being canceled.


Update, 4:58 p.m.

Governor Cuomo has just said in a live press conference that driving on the road after 11 p.m. in thirteen downstate New York State counties would be breaking the law, punishable by a possible misdemeanor and a fine of up to $300. "It is no joke to have people stranded on the highway," Cuomo said. "We've gone through that before. It is frightening how quickly a simple trip to the supermarket can wind up being very dangerous."

Cuomo said a "hard stop" time of 11 p.m. is planned for MTA services tonight. Port Authority New York/New Jersey services are shutting down at 11 p.m. as well.

When asked if subway service would resume Tuesday morning, Cuomo said that was still being determined. "At this time no," Cuomo told a reporter when asked if he expected the subways and buses to be ready for Tuesday morning's commute. (Check the MTA website for updates.)

"The good news is, the sun will come out again," he said. "We just don't know when."


Update, 4:29 p.m.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather prediction center has provided its most recent

update

on the incoming Northeast blizzard, foretelling "crippling snowfall amounts and life-threatening blizzard conditions."

Blizzard conditions will hit New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine. Winds will vary from 30 to over 50 miles per hour to create blinding whiteouts that may make driving impossible. And close to the coastline, hurricane-force winds will get close to 75 miles per hour. "Coastal flooding and severe beach erosion are also expected," the update says. "Tidal increases may cause flooding and damage to vulnerable roads and structures."


Update, 4:17 p.m. Never one to ignore breaking news of the day, satirical news outlet The Onion has offered its own hot take on Mayor Bill de Blasio's reaction to the impending winter weather today:

As a major winter storm continued its advance toward New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio advised residents Monday to make peace with whatever higher power they call God, for all shall meet their death in the coming tempest.

You can read the Onion story, which is — in case you need to be reminded — satire, in its entirety here.


Update, 3:39 p.m. If you were planning to watch the Knicks lose tonight, you're going to have to think of other ways to have fun. Both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks were expected to play home games tonight, against Portland and Sacramento, respectively. But the NBA has announced that both have been postponed. Sorry.

In an email to Nets fans, a representative said the game against the Portland Trailblazers had been "rescheduled for Monday, April 6, at 7 p.m." The email added, "All tickets for tonight's game will be honored on the rescheduled date, April 6."


Update, 3:08 p.m.

Live in New Jersey? Got a snugglebunny on the west banks of the Hudson? Better catch that train soon. New Jersey Transit has announced that rail, bus, and light rail service will peter out beginning at 8 p.m. Rail service is not likely to resume until Thursday morning, though bus and light rail might kick back into gear sooner.

Here's the latest from njtransit.com:

The last service for NJ TRANSIT's rail, bus and light rail will depart from its point of origin at 8 p.m. tonight and scheduled to arrive at their final destinations by/at 10 p.m. due to worsening weather conditions. Effective 10 p.m. Monday, January 26, NJ TRANSIT service will shut down service due to Winter Storm Juno. At this time, commuter service on NJ TRANSIT for Bus, Light Rail and Rail departing all major stations and terminals will end by 8 p.m. reaching their final destination by/at 10 p.m.

Rail: Service will remain shut down until Thursday morning January 29, depending on track/equipment and infrastructure conditions. The last train will make all local stops.

Bus and Light Rail: Service may resume Wednesday, January 28 depending on road and track conditions as well as snow-removal operations.


Update, 2:02 p.m. #BlizzardOf2015 is good news for some high school students. Regents exams in New York City public schools scheduled for January 27 will be postponed until January 29, according to the New York City Department of Education.

The Regents Examinations are statewide standardized tests in core high school subjects required for a New York State Regents Diploma.

High schoolers who were studying for Global History and Geography, Integrated Algebra, Comprehensive Testing in Writing (special education), and Comprehensive in Mathematics (special education) will now have two more days to make snowmen and have fun study.

Previous updates are on the next page. 

Update, 1:53 p.m. With a city travel ban scheduled for 11 p.m. tonight, #BlizzardOf2015 may soon become a huge pain in the ass. But right now, at least, it's really pretty out:


Update, 1:36 p.m. Buyer beware: Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wants you to watch out for price-gougers taking advantage of the winter weather today.

"Emergency weather events are no excuse for dishonest and illegal business practices," he says, in a press release. "I encourage consumers to report any businesses that may be capitalizing on the snowstorm to distort their prices."

It's illegal in New York State for companies selling essential goods, like food, water, flashlights, and — in this case — anything snow-related to excessively raise prices during natural disasters.

You can call the attorney general's office at 800-771-7755 or visit his website to file a complaint if you think you're a victim.


Update, 1:27 p.m.

Don't bother ordering a late-night pizza tonight. New York City has called for a non-emergency travel ban on the streets after 11 p.m.

"A food delivery bicycle is not an emergency vehicle," said Mayor Bill de Blasio — much to New Yorkers' chagrin — in a press conference about the storm. "Nothing that comes to leisure or convenience or takeout food, we're not doing that."

Breaking the travel ban could result in a court summons or even arrest.

"We want people not to drive on the roads unless it's an emergency service," de Blasio added. Breaking the ban could result in a court summons or even arrest, according to a police spokesperson at the press conference.

The ban is indefinite, says de Blasio: "We're going to give people some...sense of where things are going as soon as we have a sense of how bad this is."


Update, 1:11 p.m. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has released the definitive list of *Early Getaway Trains!* leaving this afternoon, so you can follow Governor Andrew Cuomo's advice and get yourself home early. (And thanks to the badass moniker for these trains, you can also feel like a spy or some kind of superhero while doing it.)

The Long Island Rail Road is operating eight extra trains departing Penn Station between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Here's the list, from their press release:

Babylon Branch

• 2:32 p.m. express to Lynbrook, then all stops to Babylon • 3:00 p.m. stopping at Jamaica, Rockville Centre, then all stops to Babylon • 3:31 p.m. express to Rockville Centre, then all stops to Babylon

Port Jefferson Branch

• 2:08 p.m. stopping at Jamaica, Mineola, then all stops to Huntington • 2:29 p.m. stopping at Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Jamaica, New Hyde Park, then all stops to Huntington • 3:24 p.m. stopping at Jamaica, Mineola, Westbury, and Hicksville

Port Washington Branch to Great Neck

• 3:40 p.m. stopping at Woodside, Flushing-Main St., then all stops to Great Neck

Far Rockaway Branch

• 3:48 p.m. express to Locust Manor, then all stops to Far Rockaway

Metro-North Railroad

Metro-North will send out eighteen early trains from Grand Central between 1 and 4 p.m, and will cancel (or combine) fourteen trains that would normally be scheduled for after 5 p.m. Here's the list:

Hudson Line

Departures of Hudson Rail Link buses, the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry, and the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry will be coordinated so they are timed to connecting trains under the below schedule.

Early Getaway Trains:

• 1:38 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, Peekskill, then Beacon through Poughkeepsie. • 2:38 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, Peekskill, then Beacon through Poughkeepsie. • 3:11 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, then Tarrytown through Croton-Harmon. • 3:45 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, Peekskill, then Beacon through Poughkeepsie. • 4:11 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, Peekskill, then Beacon through Poughkeepsie.

Canceled Trains:

• The 5:29 p.m. outbound train, which runs express and stops at Beacon through Poughkeepsie, will not operate. • The 5:57 p.m. outbound train, stopping at Harlem-125th Street then Tarrytown through Croton-Harmon, will not operate. • The 6:12 p.m. outbound train, which stops at Harlem-125th Street then Beacon through Poughkeepsie, will not operate.

Harlem Line Early Getaway Trains:

• 2:18 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, then Scarsdale through North White Plains. • 3:13 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, then White Plains and North White Plains. • 3:34 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, White Plains, North White Plains, then Goldens Bridge to Southeast.

Canceled Trains:

• The 5:27 p.m. outbound train, serving Chappaqua through Southeast, will not operate. • The 5:38 p.m. outbound train, stopping at Mount Vernon West through Crestwood, will not operate. • The 5:58 p.m. outbound train, stopping at Harlem-125th Street, then Mount Vernon West through Crestwood, will not operate. • The 7:03 p.m. train departing GCT, stopping at Scarsdale through North White Plains, will not operate. • The 7:28 p.m. train departing GCT, stopping at Crestwood through North White Plains, will not operate.

New Haven Line Early Getaway Trains:

• 12:58 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, Westport, then Fairfield through New Haven. • 2:01 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, Westport, then Fairfield through New Haven. • 2:28 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, Westport, then Fairfield through New Haven. • 2:31 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, then New Rochelle through Harrison. • 2:56 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, Stamford, then Noroton Heights through South Norwalk. • 2:59 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, then New Rochelle through Harrison. • 3:02 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, Stamford, Westport, and then Fairfield through New Haven. • 3:26 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, then New Rochelle through Harrison. • 3:29 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, Westport, then Fairfield through New Haven. • 4:00 p.m., stopping at Harlem-125th Street, Stamford, then Bridgeport through New Haven.

Canceled/Combined Trains:

• The 5:18 p.m. outbound train is canceled, and will be combined with the 5:21p.m. train, which will stop at Harlem-125th Street, then Mount Vernon East through Harrison. • The 5:57 p.m. outbound train is canceled, and will be combined with the 6:02p.m. train, which will stop at Mount Vernon East through Harrison. • The 6:07 p.m. outbound train is canceled, and will be combined with the 6:11p.m. train, which will stop at Harlem-125th Street, Stamford, then South Norwalk through New Haven. • The 6:42 p.m. train, stopping at New Rochelle through Harrison, is canceled. • The 6:49 p.m. train, stopping at Harlem-125th Street, South Norwalk, Westport, then Fairfield through New Haven, is canceled. • The 7:09 p.m. train, stopping at Larchmont through Harrison, is cancelled. • The 8:03 p.m. train, stopping at Harlem-125th Street, South Norwalk, Westport, then Fairfield through New Haven, is canceled.


The accumulation prediction at 4:42 a.m. on Monday, January 26
The accumulation prediction at 4:42 a.m. on Monday, January 26

Update, 12:49 p.m.: All city parks and rec centers will close at 6 p.m. today, according to a new tweet from the city's Parks and Recreation department:

The tweet comes after the department sent out a request asking people to avoid parks today and tomorrow. The department says it will provide an update on park conditions Tuesday morning, after the brunt of the storm.


Update, 12:42 p.m.: The Port Authority's executive director, Pat Foye, says those traveling by air through Newark, LaGuardia, and John F. Kennedy airports today should expect to change their plans.

"For travelers there are extensive cancellations today," he says, adding that he anticipates "very extensive cancellations tomorrow."

The airports will continue to be open for emergency flights.


Update, 12:30 p.m.: The State of Connecticut has banned all travel after 9 p.m.

That's two hours earlier than the travel ban that Governor Andrew Cuomo is currently considering for New York State.

"We think Connecticut's forecast is expected to be worse than ours and that's the reason for the difference between the 11 and 9 p.m. bans," Cuomo says.


Update, 12:11 p.m.: Governor Cuomo is considering a "travel ban on all main roads starting at 11 p.m. tonight."

"It's never an easy decision. You close the roads, some people can't travel. You keep the roads open, people can get stuck on the roads...we're taking what we believe are prudent measures."

Cuomo also said New York City's subways will be operating until 7 or 8 p.m., after which the trains will be on limited service, mostly using express lines. The MTA, says Cuomo, wants "to put the trains away...To protect the subway cars we have to close down the subway system earlier."

Metro-North and LIRR service are expected to be closed at 11 p.m. "so the trains can be put in a place that is safe from the weather."

The PATH will go on a weekend schedule after 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's office has released a tweet saying after-school activities have been canceled today:

Schools are also expected to be closed on Tuesday.

  Update, 8:49 a.m.: Brace yourselves, New Yorkers. Winter Storm Juno is set to hit the Big Apple and the rest of the Northeast on Monday afternoon, potentially lasting until midnight. As of the wee hours Monday morning, the National Weather Service was predicting a "crippling and potentially historic blizzard" that will cause snow accumulation of 18 to 24 inches and feature ferocious winds upward of 60 mph. Here are a few things to be aware of as you await Juno's impact:

Deserted Streets, Subway Closures, Telecommuting (Governor Andrew Cuomo Will Approve) Cuomo advised commuters to explore the possibility of working from home today, owing to potential transit closures. At the governor's behest, state agencies such as the National Guard, New York State Police, and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have geared up to respond to the snowstorm with an arsenal of plows, salt, sand, and anti-icing chemicals. And if you're feeling particularly motivated to be part of the solution, head out to Staten Island and buy this person's pickup-truck-with-snowplow, which was put up for sale on January 26. Meanwhile, according to a press release, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will begin stabling trains on Monday night to "protect the fleet from the elements."

Pre-Apocalyptic Store Lines and Empty Food Shelves Down the ladder, New Yorkers have responded by stocking up on food and heeding their leaders' words to prepare for the worst. There were long lines and empty shelves at grocery stores across the city (especially Whole Foods, obvs).

Meteorologists Too Excited to Sleep "I'm up late focused on the storm, like every other meteorologist," atmospheric scientist Adam Sobel told the Voice via email slightly after midnight on Monday.

Sobel, a Columbia University professor whose research interests include extreme weather and climate, says although there is a chance that NYC will beat its 2006 snowfall record of 29.6 inches this week, recent forecasts of 24 inches or even less are more likely.

Sobel says the winter storm appears to be an "extreme case" of warmer air laden with water vapor being forced hard up against much colder air that can freeze it.

Panic?! "We are facing, most likely, one of the largest snowstorms in the history of the city," said Mayor Bill de Blasio at a not-so-calming press conference on Sunday, where he warned that the city was likely to be covered in up to three feet of snow. The mayor urged New Yorkers to prepare for something worse than they had seen before. "Don't underestimate this storm," he added bluntly.

A Buzzing Twitterverse (#Blizzardof2015) In keeping with how misery seeks company, New Yorkers are buzzing on Twitter with mass hysteria, occasional creative swipes at Mayor de Blasio, and a striking number of film references.

Be safe out there and stock up on edibles. If you must travel, as per the weather service's instructions, don't forget to bring your winter survival kit along.

Email the author: icnwoye@villagevoice.com Follow on Twitter: @irenecnwoye

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