Though the conditions this weekend's Winter Storm will bring to New York City will be nowhere near as severe as Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg cautioned residents to stay off the streets Friday and Saturday as low visibility and high winds will make walking and driving difficult.
"My biggest concern is people go out, walk, slip, fall into traffic," Bloomberg said during a press conference Friday afternoon. "With low visibility and high winds, someone [could] turn a corner in a car, and doesn't see a pedestrian..."
The National Weather Service, which issued a blizzard warning Thursday that will remain in effect until Saturday, Feb. 9 at 1 p.m., forecasted that Nemo could dump as much as 10 to 14 inches of snow on New York City.
Rain, sleet and snow is expected to pound the city until around 2 a.m. Saturday, with strong winds blowing north up to 20 to 30 mph and occasional gusts up to 50 mph. A Coastal flood warning is also in effect.
"All of that could change," Bloomberg said. "The storm could move much further east faster … but we've got to prepare for the worst case and this is what the National Weather Service says is the worst case."
And the City is well-prepared to take on Nemo at its worst, Bloomberg said, noting that more than 25,000 tons of salt to melt snow is on hand, and 350 salt spreaders and plows are ready for action.
"Our city has a plan of action to keep New Yorkers safe," he said.
City sanitation workers are on full mobilization and will work in 12-hour shifts, and private sector contractors will assist in plowing. Snow plows can now be tracked on NYC.gov with an application that updates every half hour.
The Departments of Parks and Recreation, Environmental Protection and Transportation will also supplement the snow removal effort with their own equipment, including 17 anti-icing vehicles.
Bloomberg repeatedly cautioned residents to avoid using their vehicles during the storm, and said any vehicle found blocking roadways will be towed at its owner's expense.
The NYPD's fleet of 95 tow trucks are prepared to remove stalled vehicles from the street, Bloomberg continued, noting that 31 private tow trucks will assist the department's efforts.
All New York public school Friday after school activities as well as Saturday classes and activities have been canceled. Alternate side parking is suspended city-wide Friday and Saturday. Parking meters will be suspended Saturday, but remain in effect Friday.
The MTA believes underground subway service will be operating close to normal during rush hour Friday, Bloomberg said. He noted bus service will be reduced as the storm intensifies.
"If there is a subway where you're going, I'd suggest you'd take that," he said.
Bloomberg stressed only dialing 911 in the case of emergencies, and said all other calls and inquiries to city agencies should be directed to 311. The City has brought in additional 311 representatives to handle the expected onslaught of calls. People can also text 311 at "311NYC" or "311692" about any issues that arise.
"We've got a whole system of pulling together all the resources," he said. "We think we certainly have enough."
He said that while the City does not expect to use as many resources during Nemo as it did during Sandy, New York is "ready for anything."
"This is certainly not going to be a Hurricane Sandy [situation], but that doesn't mean you can't get badly hurt or killed if you're not careful."