In mid-November, the East Coast weathered a premature snowstorm of a magnitude that certainly shouldn't have been staggering, but brought New York City to a grinding halt nonetheless. Precipitation peaked at six inches, which you'd think a metropolis like ours—very large, very equipped to deal with snow—would be able to handle without much fuss. Especially since, on the eve of the storm, the Department of Sanitation staged a show of force press conference in front of our impressive salt supply, announcing that it would roll out every spreader in its fleet to combat what officials expected would be about an inch of accumulation.
But as day turned to night on November 15th, it quickly became clear that the salt spreaders would not be enough, and now the city has a new protocol: It will activate a FULL SNOW RESPONSE whenever a two-inch forecast looms. (Perhaps it bears noting that the November 15th snowstorm was only forecast to drop between one and two inches of wintry mix, but...no matter!)
In the wake of Snowpocalypse 2018—which stranded commuters in their cars for hours, turned Penn Station into a Hunger Games-style combat arena, transfigured the bridges into overcrowded traffic gauntlets, wreaked havoc on our flight plans, and downed a remarkable number of trees—people brought their questions to politicians. Why didn't the buses get tire chains? Why such spotty salting? What in the actual hell? The answers effectively boiled down to, "Every so often we're taken by surprise." But the city does not plan to be fooled again.
According to ABC 7, the City Council confronted a team of municipal department heads in a "firing squad" hearing on Thursday. Council Speaker Corey Johnson demanded an official apology from Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, who balked.
"I am certainly sorry that we did not message this, and we were not able to make it so that people understood the challenge they would face ahead," Garcia said. "I am reluctant to phrase it in that direct way, because of the challenge of trying to apologize for a storm and for traffic."
Still, going forward, the city will prepare its plowing operations in early November, as opposed to the customary mid-November. Ideally, this would mean that plows will be out before every driver in the five boroughs attempts to hit the road at rush hour, giving those cars a clear path forward. Officials will also up the ante on salt, sending out the spreaders for "little to no snow," as NBC 4 puts it. According to ABC 7, Garcia also noted that they might send spreaders to work against the flow of traffic, "outside the box thinking" that certainly seems chaotic on its face (at least to my mind), but apparently helps mitigate storm panic. And again, they'll be doing all this and possibly more whenever The Weather threatens two inches of snow.
Anyway, here's some music to enjoy as you contemplate the fact that it's not even winter yet: