Getting ready for Juno, the Blizzard


Snow in NYC - 2013 (image by Koen Blanquart)

Snow in NYC – 2013 (image by Koen Blanquart)

New York is preparing for the biggest snow storm ever. This is at least what the mayor and governor told us. The New Yorkers, and the media reporting about them, are getting ready… New York has experience with larger snowstorms. When Bill De Blasio became mayor of New York in 2014, he faced seven snowstorms in the first four months to his administration. Most people on the east coast will not lightly forget that Halloween storm of 2011. But now we have to prepare for worse, we are told. Juno, that’s the name of this storm, brings more snow and wind than other storms in recent history. The winds, expected to reach 75 MpH (120 km/h) will make it feel  way colder than it is.

Snow in central park (2013 - image Koen Blanquart)

Snow in central park (2013 – image Koen Blanquart)

The weather forecasters are predicting 1 to 2 feet of snow. That is about 25 and 50 cm. Our mayor told us that there is a chance we could get even more than that, this time… Our recent record for a snow storm stands at 26 inches of snow, that’s over 60 centimeters. Measured in central Park, in 2006. But the mayor and the governor keep repeating that we are getting more than this. And the news channels and newspapers are happy to report how the mayor and the governor’s expectations are higher than their own weather teams.

The days leading to Sandy come to mind, when I hear the messages and follow the readiness of New York. This time, fortunately, there are no evacuations. It’s to my knowledge the first time since that weekend in 2012, that the subway will be brought to a halt. As it happened during super storm Sandy, subway cars will be safely parked underground. So New Yorkers are currently mostly concerned about how they will get home tonight, as it seems that the shutdown of the subway will happen before rush hour. Those who can, work from home. With over 5 million people using the subway on an average working day, this decision has a huge impact on the city.

Snow fun in Central Park (2013 - Image Koen Blanquart)

Snow fun in Central Park (2013 – Image Koen Blanquart)

The preparations made by people who are not living in the city are slightly different. My friends outside the city prepared their generators, made sure they got enough fuel, they have food for several days, and so on. The power grid on Long Island and upstate New York is (to say the least) ancient. It doesn’t take much snow on a tree to break down a branch, and bring a complete village or section without power. Every major storm and snowstorm in the last years has brought several 10,000s of people without power in those areas. With our power cables buried, Manhattan will probably remain with power.

Oh, and on a positive note: my sled is ready, so when the storm is over, I’ll be heading for Central Park, subway or no subway. And if it turns out to be more panic and media hype, it’ll still be a good day for a hot chocolate.

I’ll be happy to provide pictures via this blog if the NY power grid can stand all this media attention and some snow. But so far it has just started snowing very lightly here (8am EST on Monday January 26th). Stay tuned, stay safe and stay warm!


[Update 11:20 AM] While the governor still calls for people to go home in the afternoon, before the evening rush, MTA explains that they will use the express tracks to store the trains safely during the storm. So express tracks will be the first to stop servicing. Local trains will be impacted later. MTA recommends to keep an eye on their website, as the impact will be line by line.

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