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De Blasio Issues Emergency Declaration; Blizzard Moves In Early For NYC

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The much-anticipated blizzard was striking the Tri-State Area earlier than expected Friday night, after Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a Winter Weather Emergency Declaration for the following day.

The city's Winter Weather Emergency Declaration is in effect for Saturday from 8 a.m. until midnight.

A blizzard warning is in effect from 4 a.m. Saturday to noon Sunday in all five boroughs of the city, Long Island and the coastal portions of northeast New Jersey.

CHECK: Latest | Radar | Forecast & Alerts | Follow Live: Blizzard Blog | Cold Weather Safety Guide | Traffic/Transit Guide

A winter storm watch is also in effect from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon for parts of New Jersey and the lower Hudson Valley.

The snow began moving in and sticking earlier than expected Friday night, and was expected to intensify later Saturday. New York City is just inside the storm's sharp northern edge, which means it could see heavy accumulations.

CBS2's Lonnie Quinn warned late Friday that the latest anticipated path of the storm will likely mean higher snow totals than earlier anticipated. The storm is now forecast to veer toward the north over New York City instead of heading more to the northeast.

As of 11 p.m., 3 inches of snow or more had already fallen in parts of New Jersey.

Some forecast models remained stable late Friday, but others rose off the charts. The GFS Model forecast 10.5 inches of accumulation and the GFS 11 inches, but the RPM Model 21.4 inches, and the North American model called for a jaw-dropping 36.7 inches for New York City.

If the snowstorm continues to move due north, gigantic numbers as seen in the North American Model could indeed materialize, Quinn reported. But Quinn expects the storm to take a northeast push.

Thus, Quinn was not forecasting 23 inches, but late Friday, he said New York City will likely pick up 9 to 15 inches of snow -- up from an earlier forecast of 6 to 12 inches.

Totals amounting to 5 to 9 inches are also now expected north of the city.

Quinn and producer Giorgio Panetta fielded questions from CBS New York's Facebook page about the storm Friday night. Watch below.

Lonnie's Update: 01.22.16

Lonnie Quinn and Giorgio Panetta were live on Facebook, with the latest forecast and answers to some of your questions. Get the latest here:

Posted by CBS New York on Friday, January 22, 2016

No matter what the case, the area will get pounded one way or another, With that in mind, Mayor de Blasio urged residents to avoid all driving except in emergencies and said any vehicle blocking the roadways is subject to towing, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported.

"If you have to go out, rely on mass transit, walk if you have to but do not bring your vehicle out tomorrow," he said during a news conference Friday afternoon. "Any unnecessary driving should be avoided. Unless it is urgent, stay off the roads -- it's as simple as that."

De Blasio called in to speak with 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa at the Jeep Storm Desk Friday evening to elaborate on his emergency declaration, as well as offer tips to New Yorkers on how to stay safe during the storm.

"New Yorkers need to stay off the roads, it's as simple as this," the mayor said.

Mayor de Blasio also spoke to WCBS 880 with a reminder of why people need to be off the roads if possible.

"Saturday, I think I would say most likely Sunday as well, I think it's going to be necessary for people to stay off the roads," de Blasio said. "Let our first responders; our emergency vehicles have the ability to move around. Let our sanitation plows to their work."

De Blasio said the storm could bring fast accumulation.

"And it's important that the snowplows constantly move around to address the snow as it's occurring. We can't let it build up too much or that's really going to create a problem," the mayor said.

Officials also emphasized that parking rules will be enforced.

"We will have close to 100 tow trucks available to move vehicles off the streets that may be blocking plows," added police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

The Department of Sanitation has also issued a snow alert starting 3 a.m. Saturday.

At a Department of Sanitation yard in Maspeth, Queens -- and at others across the city -- workers were scrambling. They were getting their ducks in a row before it was time for responders to spread out.

Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said snow-fighting crews are already at full force.

"We will stay full force during duration of the storm and through all the cleanup efforts," Garcia said.

The Sanitation Department is deploying workers on two split shifts of 12 hours each. There will be 2,300 workers per shift as well as 579 salt spreaders that are being pre-deployed Friday night.

The Sanitation Department also has 314,000 tons of rock salt on hand and has fitted 1,650 sanitation vehicles with plows. In addition, the DSNY said there will be no trash or recycling collection on Saturday.

City officials have said they were keeping a close eye on the evolving forecast.

The mayor said the city has been in daily contact with the National Weather Service. In addition to the possibility of up to a foot of snow, strong winds and possible coastal flooding are a concern.

"We're constantly adjusting our operation to reflect the forecast we're receiving and we're of course ready to upgrade our response even further," de Blasio said.

The NYPD is also gearing up to deal with possible flooding.

"After Sandy, obviously there was severe flooding in the urban areas, in the streets and based upon that, we wanted to make sure that we had the capability of deploying more assets into those areas," said Emergency Services Unit Chief Vincent Giordano told 1010 WINS' Al Jones.

Giordano said each precinct prone to flooding has highly-trained officers and specialized equipment.

"A Zodiac, it's a 12-foot inflatable with a Yamaha 9.9 engine," he said. "Specific equipment that goes with it -- Viking dry suits, tactical helmets."

The NYPD also has 4-wheel drive trucks to help get through heavy snow.

The FDNY said Friday it will have an extra 500 personnel on duty during the storm and about 117 extra ambulance tours on the streets. That fleet includes 74 four-wheel-drive vehicles. All of the ambulances will have chains.

The city is deploying 119 probationary EMTs to work as a third ambulance crew member.

In addition, the State's Emergency Operations Center is being activated Friday evening to monitor the storm, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

"If you do not need to be on the streets, you shouldn't be on the streets," Cuomo said during an afternoon storm briefing. "Prepare to stay home.

Cuomo said that while this is not the worst forecast New York has ever seen, it is "significant and it should not be taken lightly."

The governor said the state is ready to aid local governments with equipment and personnel when and where it's needed, including 200 Department of Transportation trucks like plows and salt spreaders.

Additionally, Cuomo said 600 National Guard members are ready for deployment.

"The National Guard wind up critically important in these situations," he said.

New Yorkers have been getting ready for the storm, with some preparing for the worst. In shoreline areas of Brooklyn, flooding was a major concern.

"So the water can't come in through the shower, I've got a plug in there blocking it -- and that's just the beginning," said Efrain "Al" Arroyo of Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn.

Arroyo said flooding in his basement level home happens

"It comes up through the sewers; comes through the walls," he said.

And while Arroyo was hoping Mother Nature spares his neighborhood on Saturday, he was already set up to stop water from moving and remove it if necessary. He set up a pump below his fish tank.

"This will go out through the bottom of the door and up the street, and it pumps it out to the street," he said. "If it surges over the street, then this whole basement fills up."

At Park Slope Hardware farther north in Brooklyn, customer David Bryfman snatched up 50 pounds of salt from Friday morning's latest shipment.

"I'm an Australian guy buying salt because I'm scared of the blizzard," he told CBS2's Andrea Grymes. "I hate the blizzard. I'm not used to this stuff -- every year I go through the same turmoil."

And he's not alone.

"It's been like the last couple days," said store owner Ayman Hassan. "People getting prepared."

At this Trader Joe's store in Chelsea, there was a long line of people who lined up to get inside and make purchases to carry them through the rest of the storm -- while safely at home.

Many wished they had done their shopping earlier.

"Since there's a snowstorm, it's just bad timing," said Erin Miller of Chelsea.

Meanwhile, as CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reported, Citymeals on Wheels has been working overtime in advance of the storm.

CBS2 joined them Friday morning as they delivered extra meals and emergency boxes to elderly New Yorkers, so as to ensure they have enough food to get through the storm.

"It's security for them," said Citymeals on Wheels executive director Beth Shapiro. "They're 89, 90 – we're feeding over 300 people who are 100 years old or older. They won't be able to leave their apartments tomorrow, and they need food on hand."

Getting around may not be easy for anyone. Train service across the region could be disrupted as by the storm, with a risk of frozen switches, the loss of third-rail electric power or trees falling on overhead wires.

About 1,000 track workers will be deployed to keep New York City's subway system moving, and 79 trains will have "scraper shoes'' to reduce icing on the rails, the Metropolitan Transit Authority said.

Cuomo said the MTA has assured him they plan to continue running on a weekend schedule through the storm.

But Citi Bike service will be suspended systemwide at 11 p.m., and there is no word on when it will resume.

All major airlines have issued waivers for travel over the weekend, allowing passengers to rebook onto earlier or later flights to avoid the storms.

The flight tracking site FlightAware estimates airlines will cancel at least 2,000 flights Friday and another 3,000 Saturday, which is the slowest travel days of the week.

By Sunday afternoon, however, the airlines hope to be back to full schedule.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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