Image: Snow plow in NYC
Frank Franklin II  /  AP
New York City had more plows mobilized on city streets than snow to clear Friday.
updated 1/8/2011 12:58:49 AM ET 2011-01-08T05:58:49

New York City came out overprepared Friday for a weak storm that delivered just a few inches of snow — not enough to plow in most places and likely not enough for the mayor to redeem himself from a disastrous response to a post-Christmas blizzard.

Flakes melted onto wet streets as snowplows — some equipped with global positioning devices since the blizzard foul-up — and salt spreaders sat idle in neighborhoods all over the city.

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Airports reported some delays and canceled some 300 flights, but nothing near the thousands of grounded flights that stranded passengers for days and days in December.

By nightfall, the National Weather Service reported the highest accumulation citywide was 2 inches in Queens, a mere dusting compared with the holiday storm that dumped 29 inches in Staten Island, 2 feet in Brooklyn and 20 inches in Central Park.

Six to 12 inches was forecast Friday for parts of upstate New York, where dozens of schools were closed, but in the New York City area, a total of 3 to 5 inches was expected.

"They probably spent a small fortune getting prepared for nothing. For nothing!" said Richie Quinn, 53, a butcher who lives in Brooklyn. "Yet we were unprepared for the big boy."

After that winter blast on the tail of a holiday travel weekend, swaths of the city went unplowed for days, ambulances got stuck and the overworked sanitation department allowed trash to pile up. The response was so mired with problems — including rumors of a deliberate work slowdown by sanitation workers — that it is being examined by federal and local investigators.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration, which has reassigned some sanitation supervisors and demoted its EMS command chief, seized Friday's storm as a chance to restore its image as a government that smoothly handles emergencies.

Along with the GPS devices on some sanitation trucks, teams of workers were deployed throughout the city, toting video cameras that sent live feeds of street conditions back to commanders at emergency headquarters.

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Bloomberg also visited a south Brooklyn neighborhood that had been hit hard by the last snowstorm.

"We don't think the snowfall will be anything like the Christmas blizzard, but we are ready for any eventuality," he told citizens at a senior center.

A big storm might have been a chance for Bloomberg to begin repairing his reputation that has been damaged in the aftermath of the late-December storm.

But it did not seem significant enough to make anyone soon forget past mistakes.

As the mayor left the center, Caroline Ruggiero, who said her street was not plowed for days, tried to approach him and ask why she and her neighbors have gone without garbage pickups since Christmas. Security blocked her and Bloomberg walked away.

"We still have piles of snow and we have not had a trash pickup yet," she said in an interview. "Never in all my life have I seen a snowstorm debacle like this."

By Friday afternoon, agency liaisons were being sent home early from the city Emergency Operations Center, where city agencies coordinate their emergency response efforts.

Some New Yorkers noticed the city's readiness for Friday's snow, even if it wasn't needed.

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Patricia Perales, 34, of Brooklyn, said she saw salt trucks stationed Thursday night, long before flakes began falling Friday morning.

"It's night and day," she said of the difference between the storms. "I had a cold walk to the subway, but other than that I barely noticed the snow."

North of New York City in Westchester County, police reported auto accidents on several county parkways and Interstate 84 was closed for a stretch near the New York-Connecticut border.

In Long Island, most streets and highways were wet but snow-free. Still, authorities and residents took precautions, perhaps with memories of the last snowfall.

New Jersey, where some roads went unplowed for days after the December blizzard, also ramped up its preparation — state police said more troopers would be on state roads to help slow down traffic so plow drivers can complete their work safely.

By Friday evening, New Jersey's snowfall ranged from just under 2 inches at Newark Liberty International Airport to as high as 6 inches in Bergen County, according to the National Weather Service.

Commuters who had taken their cues from morning forecasters looked overdressed by Friday evening's trek home, as they stood bundled up in winter gear at bus stops or trudged in heavy snow boots along clear streets or sidewalks showing mostly pavement.

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Video: Southeast braces for snow as storm heads south

  1. Closed captioning of: Southeast braces for snow as storm heads south

    >>> here in new york, officials went out of their way to declare how ready they were for more snow today after that blizzard that crippled new york about two weeks ago and still left uncollected trash on some of the city treats. and man, were they ready. snowplows with chains on the tires were out, and lots of them. in the end, the city got about an inch. but to repeat, boy, was the city ready. and another storm is headed for the south this weekend. chris warren back with us from head quarts. tell us about the next wubl.

    >> it looks like we have the ingredients in place for a nasty situation in the south. let's look at this. first, a big dip in the jet stream means cold air all the way down almost to the gulf. and then we have this system, this is going to be the instigator, this system moving in from the west, picking up a lot of moisture from the gulf. these two coming together, we're going to see several inches of snow. and potentially isles. that is why the track is so important of this low. because where we get the snow, yes, that will be a big deal . getting several inches of snow in the south, that's a big deal . but south of the snow, we will have ice, and that is an extremely dangerous situation when you get freezing rain. we're looking at significant snow and ice. could have some power outages. this is going to mean dangerous travel on the roads and through the air. and the big question is, what happens after this into tuesday, wednesday? this storm could be heading to the northeast.

    >> all right, chris warren at the weather channel . chris, thanks

Photos: Winter wonderland

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  1. Horning in

    Sledders in horned helmets glide to the finish line of the of the traditional horn sledge race in a valley near the Bavarian village of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. More than 90 sleds took part in the traditional event on Jan. 6. (Christof Stache / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Frost and fireworks

    Fireworks explode over ice sculptures during the official opening of the Harbin International Ice and Snow festival in the northern Chinese city of Harbin. (David Gray / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Stripes and snow

    Tigers prowl the snowy Siberia Tiger Park in Harbin, China, on Jan. 7. The park is one of the largest breeding centers for endangered Siberian tigers. (How Hwee Young / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Dome to a turn

    An ice sculpture mimics the architecture of Saint Basil Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square on Jan. 5. (Yuri Kadobnov / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Frosted forest

    Horses pull a sledge through snow-covered woods in the eastern German ski resort of Oberhof on Jan. 5. (Christian Charisius / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. River floe

    A Ukrainian man walks on the frozen Dnieper River in Kiev, Ukraine, on Jan. 3. Temperatures in the Ukrainian capital dropped to 28 degrees. (Sergei Chuzavkov / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Horsey hoarfrost

    Frost covers the eyelashes of a horse in the eastern German ski resort of Oberhof, Jan. 5. (Christian Charisius / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Peaking out

    Clouds and blowing snow form a halo around Mount Rainier as seen from Seattle on Dec. 30. (Elaine Thompson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Walking in a winter wonderland

    Two people walk through a band of heavy lake-effect snow falling near Shaker Heights, Ohio, on Jan. 5. (Amy Sancetta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Sled racers

    A father sleds with his daughter near Bonn, Germany, on Dec. 25. (Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Walking on thick ice

    A worker walks on a snow sculpture featuring camels prior to the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in China on Dec. 24. The 27th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival kicks off on Jan. 5. (Sheng Li / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Wake-up call

    A man swims in a partially frozen pond as another prepares to jump in after snowfall at Hampstead Heath in London on Dec. 19. (Matt Dunham / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Picture perfect

    A snow covered Stormont estate is pictured in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Dec. 17. (Peter Muhly / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Mirrored beauty

    Fresh snow on the trees in the Harz mountain range in Sonnenberg, Germany, Nov. 27. (Frank May / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Wild nature

    Deer are seen in a pasture as snow covers the landscape near Schinnen, southern Netherlands, Dec. 17. (Ermindo Armino / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Super snowman

    A 31-foot snowman dubbed "Milocinek," who wears a barrel for a hat and a road safety cone for his nose, greets children in Pierwoszow village near Trzebnica, Poland, on Dec. 11. (Grzegorz Hawalej / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Black swans

    Two swans move across the water during a spell of frosty fog in the Oslofjord, Norway, on Dec. 7, 2010. (Larsen, Hakon Mosvold / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Bread bath

    Ducks fight for bread on the River Kelvin in Glasgow, Scotland, on Dec. 7, 2010. (Andy Buchanan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Winter's web

    Hoar frost clings to a spider's web around Pickmere Lake in the Cheshire countryside in Knutsford, United Kingdom on Dec. 3. Heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures have severely disrupted Britain's infrastructure. (Christopher Furlong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. White vista

    Roofs in the old town of Bern, Switzerland are covered by snow on Dec. 2. Heavy snowfalls hit large parts of Central Europe. (Peter Klaunzer / Keystone via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Cold canopy

    A man skiis in the Thuringian Forest in Oberhof, Germany on Dec. 2. Large parts of Germany were hit by heavy snowfalls and icy winds. (Jens Meyer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Stroll noir

    People walk along the Moskva river at the outskirts of Moscow on Dec. 2 as temperatures plummet to -23 degrees Celsius (-9 degrees Fahrenheit). (Mikhail Metzel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Crystal clear

    Snow crystals appear on the window of a car in Bayreuth, southern Germany, on Dec. 2. Snow blanketed the country, disrupting traffic but also bringing good winter sports conditions. (David Ebener / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Full steam ahead

    A steam engine makes its way across the snow-covered landscape after fresh snowfall near the eastern German city of Wernigerode on Nov. 22. (Matthias Bein / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Rose hips on ice

    Rose hips are covered with an icinglike layer of snow in the southwest of Bavaria in Stoettgen, Germany, Nov. 22. (Karl Josef Hildenbrand / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Let it snow

    Snow covers the 'Pepiniere' park in Villers-les-Nancy, France, Nov. 29. (Alexandre Marchi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Grin and 'bear' it

    A Kamchatka brown bear rests in the first snow at the zoo in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany, Nov. 29. (Martin Meissner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Snowfight!

    Children have a blast during a snowball fight in Lyon, central France, Wednesday, Dec. 1. (Laurent Cipriani / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Slippery when wet

    Snow-covered rooftops are pictured in this general view of Lyon, southeastern France, as winter weather with sub-freezing temperatures hits the country, Dec. 1. (Robert Pratta / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Walking in a winter wonderland

    A man goes for a walk through the snow-covered landscape near the southern German city of Altdorf. (Karl-josef Hildenbrand / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Snow buddy

    Brox the cocker spaniel runs through the snow at Scotch Corner, northern England, Nov. 29. (Nigel Roddis / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Frost on!

    A fisherman casts his line in Moscow River, covered in frosty fog, with the air temperature at about -13 degrees Celsius (8.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in Moscow, Nov. 29. (Denis Sinyakov / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Blinded by the light, and snow

    Blowing snow and freezing temperatures face drivers as they head west on Highway 1 from Calgary, Alberta, Nov. 29. (Mike Blake / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Clearing for takeoff

    Snow plows clear part of the runway at Edinburgh airport, Scotland Nov. 29. (David Moir / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Over the fields and through the snow

    A horseman rides a horse between snow-covered fields in Muehlethurnen, near Bern, on Nov. 26. (Michael Buholzer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Just ducky

    A duck rests on a frozen lake with the air temperature at about minus 18 degrees Celsius (minus 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit) on the outskirts of Minsk, Dec. 1. (Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Silent night, twinkling lights

    A snow-covered cabin is lit by Christmas lights along the shoreline of Lake Louise after sunset in Alberta, Nov. 29. (Mike Blake / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Lights all aglow

    A lamp covered with frozen snow shines on top of the Feldberg mountain near Frankfurt, central Germany, Nov. 30. (Michael Probst / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Snow crossing

    A man crosses a bridge on the Niviglio river in a snowstorm on Dec. 1, in Robecco sul Naviglio, near Milan, Italy. (Olivier Morin / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Sledder's delight

    Rachel Douglass (top) and Sophie Coatsworth sledge downhill at the Town Moor in Newcastle, northern England Nov. 29. (Nigel Roddis / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Wearing their woolens

    Sheep stand on a snow-covered meadow in Olching, west of Munich, Germany, during heavy snowfall in Bavaria, Nov. 29. (Michaela Rehle / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Arctic oasis

    Landscape is covered in snow on Nov. 29, at the Schlaubetal natural park near Mixdorf, eastern Germany. (Patrick Pleul / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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