As a broad swath of the country, from Oregon to Texas, endures power outages, frigid temperatures, and record snowfall, New York City is bracing for yet another major snowstorm, with predicted totals ranging from 4 to 8 inches throughout the city beginning early Thursday morning.
This February has been the snowiest month in New York City in five years, with almost 20 inches of snow accumulating so far, according to meteorologist Chris Bianchi.
The National Weather Service said in a statement Wednesday morning that a Winter Storm Watch was in effect for the greater metro area starting Thursday at 6 a.m. and that residents should prepare for hazardous travel conditions until Friday afternoon.
City officials warned residents to prepare for potential power outages during the storm, urging people to charge all of their devices Wednesday night and to unplug any unnecessary appliances to avoid surges. Mayor Bill de Blasio said during his daily press conference Wednesday that New Yorkers should stay off the roads Thursday to prioritize essential infrastructure. “Expect tomorrow to be difficult,” said de Blasio.
Severe winter storms have rocked much of the country this week, with record breaking cold spells ravaging the American South. Texas has been hit especially hard by massive power outages across the state as temperatures have plunged to below-freezing levels. According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, 40 percent of the state’s power plants have gone offline from the unprecedented demand.
Unlike Texas, New York’s power supply comes from the New York Independent System Operator (NYSIO), one of 36 organizations that make up the Eastern Interconnection electrical grid running from Canada to Florida. According to the NYISO’s energy dashboard, more than half of the state’s electricity supply comes from renewable energy sources such as nuclear power, hydroelectric power, and wind turbines. Zack Hutchins, the media relations lead for the NYISO, said on Wednesday that energy demand in New York is “expected to peak at around 20,000 megawatts over the next several days,” well below their 42,277 megawatt capacity threshold.
The NYC Department of Sanitation began “plowing up” its vehicles Wednesday in preparation for Thursday’s storm, turning their collection trucks into snowplows in order to better clear city streets. Plowing is expected to begin when snow accumulation exceeds 2 inches, and sanitation workers will pre-cover critical roadways with both salt and a salt brine solution before the weather begins.
“We’ve got 2,000 vehicles with plows, including 715 salt spreaders ready,” said Belinda Mager, the NYC DOS director of communications.