The storm blowing through the U.S. northeast won’t drop as much snow as forecasters anticipated, sparing residents and clean-up crews the potentially life-threatening blizzard that some predicted.
New York City may get no more than a foot as the nor’easter tapers off Tuesday evening, compared with a forecast of as much as 23.8 inches, according to Steve Lavoie, a staff meteorologist at Hometown Forecast Services in Nashua, New Hampshire. Boston may top out at 2 feet, compared with the 30 inches seen by the National Weather Service.
“We’re not expecting a historic snowstorm, but it will still be bad,” Lavoie said.
The National Weather Service downgraded its assessment to a winter storm warning from a blizzardwarning. In the update at 5:21 a.m. New York time, the service expected blizzard conditions in Connecticut and Long Island but not New York City or northern New Jersey.
No flights were scheduled at LaGuardia Airport for Tuesday, and minimal service was expected at John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey said Monday night on its website.
Rail and bus service remained suspended across the New York region, including all subway lines in the city, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s website. New Jersey Transit rail service could remain suspended through Thursday, the agency said on Twitter.
All trans-Hudson crossings, including the Lincoln and Holland tunnels and the George Washington Bridge were shut, with only emergency vehicles allowed. Amtrak suspended service for New England and scaled it back south of New York.
A travel ban south of Interstate 195 in New Jersey was lifted at 7 a.m., Governor Chris Christie said in an e-mailed statement. The ban remains in effect for all travel north of I-195.
As the snow began to fall Monday, regional activity ground to a standstill. Travel bans took effect shortly before midnight in New York, while New Jersey and Connecticut cleared roads for emergency vehicles and hundreds of snow plows and salt spreaders.
Heeding predictions of whiteouts and hurricane-force winds reaching 75 miles per hour near the coast, government officials shut highways, bridges, transit systems and schools from Maine to New Jersey. Broadway shows and sporting events were canceled. Residents made last-minute bodega dashes to stock up on food and water.
“Please stay off the roads and stay safe,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a post on Twitter.
Manhattan’s streetscape resembled a shaken snow globe as the flakes eddied among the skyscrapers.
This morning, the customary clank and clamor of Midtown was replaced with muffled quiet. The few figures on the street wielded shovels and blowers and a one-inch pink ribbon blocked a subway entrance that on most days would disgorge thousands of commuters.
The city became passable block by block. By 6 a.m., the sidewalk at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue was clear and salted so that Tiffany & Co. could resume supplying would-be grooms with the necessary equipment. Yet north at 64th Street, a walker could have the rare experience of leaving tracks in virgin snow in front of the Indian consulate.
New York has probably received most of the snow it will get, said Richard Bann, a meteorologist with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
“New York was on the knife edge of the dry side,” Bann said.
The heaviest snow in the area fell on Long Island. As of 5 a.m., 18.2 inches had fallen at Islip Airport and 15 inches at the weather service office in Upton, New York. At Forest Hills in Queens, a trained spotter recorded 9 inches.
Utilities from New Jersey to Maine reported about 15,500 customers were without power as of 7 a.m. New York time, including about 14,000 in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to their websites.
Officials had urged people to stay inside and prepare for the worst. The storm was due to peak overnight and into the morning with as much as four inches of snow falling per hour. The blizzardwarnings extended as far north as Newfoundland in Canada, and winter weather advisories stretched as far south as Georgia.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo planned a storm briefing for 8 a.m. De Blasio scheduled a news conference for 11:30 a.m.
Mounds of Salt
Earlier in the night, de Blasio visited Department of Sanitation workers at a garage on Manhattan’s west side for a news briefing amid rows of plows and tall mounds of salt. He urged workplaces to be flexible, saying it wasn’t “a time for employers to be cheapskates.”
Nor for many New Yorkers who subsist on takeout food.
“We hope diners will be patient if their orders take longer than normal to arrive, and generous and appreciative when tipping their drivers,” GrubHub Inc., a company that owns food- ordering websites, said in an e-mail. It called delivery workers “food heroes.”
Cuomo, Christie and Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts declared emergencies. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said the National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard were in place to help.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority closed at midnight and was to remain shut Tuesday. Baker issued a statewide travel ban for Tuesday. Boston may get another 8 to 12 inches through the rest of the day, Bann said.
New Jersey Transit’s lengthy shutdown was prompted by the storm’s expected duration of more than 24 hours, combined with the 12 hours required to restore trains to service, said Nancy Snyder, a spokeswoman. The railroad must inspect its 957 pieces of rolling stock and 593 miles of track, she said.
Major banks shut throughout the affected areas, while Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., Bats Global Markets Inc. and Intercontinental Exchange Inc.’s NYSE Group, which operate 10 exchanges and handle 65 percent of trading volume, said they had no plans to close early or delay their open Tuesday. CME Group Inc., owner of the New York Mercantile Exchange, also plans normal market hours, spokesman Chris Grams said.
–With assistance from Lars Paulsson, Naomi Christie and James Hertling in London, Annie Linskey in Washington, Katherine Chiglinsky, Christine Buurma, Serena Saitto, Robert Langreth, Meenal Vamburkar, Michelle Kaske, Annabelle Ju, Kelly Gilblom and Jim Polson in New York, Alexandra Mondalek in Detroit, Brian K. Sullivan in Boston, Allison Prang and Antonia Massa in New York and Elise Young in Trenton.