So as you’re all aware of Winter Storm Juno, which came roaring into the Northeast earlier this week. It seems to have set up a new pattern of panic here at home. The storm is forecast, the elected officials give press conferences, supermarkets clog up, everyone hunkers down, only then to wake up only to find that it was a total wash and communities to the north bore the brunt of the storm, again. After all we were expecting snow of epic proportions. 20-30 inches they said, record breaking, for the books, yadda yadda yadda, The city only got a grand total of 9.8 inches of snow. some other parts of the city saw a bit more but cities like Boston, Portland and the island of Nantucket got slammed with the snow that should have been ours to reminisce with the grand kids.
I mean this was what we were supposed to get!
Brooklyn street scene from the Great Blizzard of 1888, the storm brought and official amount of 21 inches to the city but, the image argues otherwise . image courtesy of wikimedia.
While most were treated to a government sanctioned snow day, others were inconvenienced by the storm and the reaction of local officials to the whole thing. Nothing has stung more than the shutdown of the subway system due to the storm.
The view down 7th Avenue.
Many people don’t know this but one of the reasons why the subway was built was in reaction the storm pictured above. After the blizzard of 1888, which paralyzed the city for days, attention was paid to the elevated railway system, which failed due to its exposure to the elements. So the idea of an underground system that was not subjected to this for of nature’s abuse began to appeal to the powers that be in New York. The subway can be many things but it’s reliability during a snowstorm is one of the appeals of having a mass transit network.
It’s 4:45 do you know where the commuters are?
Of course, two things have upset this long held virtue of the system. First, was the December 2010 blizzard. This storm was only forecast to reach 6-10 inches only to be walloped by 19 inches. It was like the blizzard of 1888 in respect: It caught people completely off guard. not only that but also 40 trains and 600 buses were halted throughout the system. This has fundamentally changed how those who run the system look at storms.
The Second change is the person who in charge of New York State. Governor Andrew Cuomo. When Governor Cuomo made the last minute announcement, at 4 p.m. that the system would do a full shutdown at 11 p.m. It was a complete reversal from the earlier announcement of the system reverting to a limited local service plan after 7 p.m.
While you could argue Cuomo did what he did in the interest of safety, he also inconvenienced a great many New Yorkers who don’t fill in the typical nine-to-five working patterns people such as my mother who might ave been stranded at work if the snowstorm hadn’t been as lenient as it was to the city. Other professions like bartenders, service staff and hospital workers, who operate outside of the nine-to-five parameter were left in the cold. Add a ban on non-emergency vehicles on the roads that commenced the same time the subways shut down, you’ve effectively shut the alternative way to get home in situations like this.
In fact, with the exception of Long Island and Eastern Connecticut, the rest of the region was able to recover quickly due to the shutdowns implemented. However, the idea of shutting the city is less practical than the maybe the suburbs. One reason against shutting the city is that New York has one thing on it side, geography. While in the past New York was quite hilly, much of it has been either smoothed out or flattened which makes it easier to plow with much of the city pretty level it makes it easier to plow the city streets. Also New York’s budget for snow removal is a bit larger and is run by the city not an individual county of a state entity. Also with the city’s integrated grid system it makes it easier to get from side of the city to the next.
But back to the subway’s the fact that subway was taken out of the equation for such a storm it hobbles the ability for the city to function. Due to the dire warnings all day Monday most people took heed of the impending shut down and the city was a ghost town for much of Tuesday morning things picked up a bit after 2 p.m. and with schools closed everyone was enjoying the day off. Heck, I was able to enjoy Times Square without the hordes of people who descend on it daily, but then again it’s only winter it will pick up.
Did I mention it’s gonna snow again?