- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

NEW YORK The blizzard of 2003 departed yesterday, leaving a moonscape of snow banks and small boys on sleds.
Lingering flurries discouraged some who wanted to venture outdoors, but as the storm headed out to sea, New Yorkers struggled to return to their daily routines. Many spent the day digging out their cars and walkways.
Not counting yesterday's flurries, the 19.8 inches of snow that fell Monday in Central Park made this blizzard the fourth-largest storm in the city's recorded weather history. The record is 26.4 inches, which fell on Dec. 26-27, 1947.
The 50-mph winds and freezing temperatures combined yesterday to make conditions difficult for many in the city.
It was so cold that, in some neighborhoods, mailboxes were frozen shut.
On a Brooklyn side street, Joe Keane was scraping snow off what he thought was his sport utility vehicle parked in a line of buried cars.
"I'm going to be late for work, and I hope it's my car," he said.
Towering snow banks forced many people on the move to walk in the streets, but the mounds of snow left by the blizzard were turning into gray slush.
Public and Catholic schools were closed for the week, which accounted for the army of children riding sleds and throwing snowballs in Central Park.
City officials advised residents to take mass transit, but it was not always easy to do. Trains were running on a weekend schedule with delays on the Long Island Railroad of as long as 90 minutes. Subways, the best way to get around the city, held close to schedule. Buses, although late, ran on a daily timetable. But drifts blocked many of the stops.
Temperatures in the teens and 20s dominated on the weekend and Monday, but warmer weather is expected today.
Heavy rain is forecast for Saturday, with temperatures rising into the 50s. Flood warnings may go up as the snow begins to melt.
Two days of canceled flights left many stranded at the metropolitan area's major airports.
Touring the city in a bright blue parka and Sanitation Department baseball hat, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the first task was to clear a path for emergency vehicles.
He said that as of 7 a.m. the Sanitation Department had cleared the snow from "100 percent of the primary streets, 92 percent of the secondary streets and 75 percent of the tertiary streets, all plowed at least once."
By 6 p.m. yesterday, he added, all 6,300 miles of roads in the city will have been plowed.
Snow removal has often been a touchy issue at City Hall. One of the city's enduring political lessons is that inadequate efforts to clear snow in Queens in 1969 eventually cost former Mayor John Lindsay his job. The streets were reported to be relatively clear yesterday throughout Queens, where 28 inches of snow fell.
Mr. Bloomberg, who is hard pressed to bridge a $3.4 billion budget gap, said the blizzard would cost the city about $1 million per inch, well over the annual amount allocated for snow removal.
Because Gov. George E. Pataki declared a state of emergency, state and federal aid will help with the cleanup.
The Sanitation Department said homeowners and merchants who did not shovel their sidewalks would be subject to a $50 fine.
The department's 1,700 plows and salt trucks have been working round-the-clock since Sunday, augmented by temporary workers who have helped with shoveling snow.


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