Winter Storm Gail set to bring a foot of snow, ‘ugly mess’ to NYC

New York City is set to get pounded with up to a foot of snow as the city’s first wintry blast of the season rolls in Wednesday evening — with forecasters predicting an “ugly mess” across the region. 

Six to 12 inches of snow is still in the cards for the city, with the more severe prediction more likely, Accuweather senior meteorologist Matt Rinde said Wednesday morning. 

Substantial snowfall is expected to begin around 4 p.m.

“Of the six to 12 range, we are leaning toward the higher numbers, 10, 11, 12 inches at this point,” Rinde told The Post. 

“Some things would have to go very wrong” if the city doesn’t see at least 6 inches, the meteorologist said. 

Even then, Rinde said the Big Apple will likely get “get 3 inches of sleet.”

“So either way, it’s going to be an ugly mess,” he told The Post.

Meanwhile, regions northwest of the city could see more than a foot, while parts of Long Island could get more of a wintry mix — with 3 to 6 inches predicted around the Hamptons, and only an inch or two farther out, according to Rinde. 

Conditions will start looking treacherous for commuters at the very beginning of the storm, which is set to roll in around 4 or 5 p.m., according to Rinde. 

“Late this evening, if you’re out for any reason, I think that’s where really big problems are going to occur,” he said.

“It’s not going to be great in the evening rush from 5 to 7 … any amount of wet roads or snowy roads slows things down considerably.” 

As the snow starts, temps will sit around 33 — the high for the day, according to Rinde. But the mercury will drop to 30 or 29 as the storm gets underway, and is forecast to dip as low as 27 overnight. 

However, windchill will make it feel much more frigid.

“We’re going to see sustained winds between 20 and 30 mph at the peak of the storm and that is going to drop the real-feel temperatures into the single digits at times as we head into the night,” Rinde said. 

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A person walks with an umbrella in Central Park during the first snow of the season on Dec. 9, 2020, in New York

Getty Images


An NYC sanitation worker prepares a large sander truck at a sanitation station at 12th Avenue and the West Side Highway in Manhattan for the upcoming snowstorm.

G.N.Miller/NY Post

NYC preps for snowstorm

Sanitation workers prepare salt spreaders and plows ahead of a snowstorm expected to hit New York City.

Paul Martinka

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Some wind gusts will even be as strong as 40 to 50 mph — even packing a 55-mph punch on coastal Long Island, he said. 

Temperatures will only hit 31 degrees Thursday.

Though the storm won’t meet the official definition of a blizzard, “there will be something described as blizzard conditions — when you have very strong winds with very heavy snowfall,” Rinde said.

The storm could also cause significant flooding, according to the meteorologist. 

“Coastal flooding is going to be a problem, with the orientation of the high pressure to the north,” the meteoroligst said.

“And where the storm is coming in, it’s going to create a strong easterly wind as over a long fetch of water, and that’s going to cause problems specifically at high tide in the areas that are prone to coastal flooding.”

The area will also be at risk of power outages during the storm, he said. 

“I think with the nature of the snow being fairly heavy and wet and mixing with sleet, and with the wind, we’re forecasting some pretty decent power outages mostly to the north of the city,” he said. 

All things considered, the storm prediction isn’t particularly unusual for this time of year, according to the forecaster.

“If you’re going to see a storm of this nature, this is pretty much the time of year you’d expect it,” he said. “We’re in the three coldest months of the year typically.”

Workers from the city Department of Transportation were out in the Times Square area Wednesday morning, using yellow carts to spread salt on the roads.

The city Department of Sanitation issued a snow alert[2] that will begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

“Salt spreaders are already filled and ready to go,” the department said in a press release earlier this week.

“Additionally, the Department’s collection trucks will be pulled from collection duty and turned into snow plows, ready to plow snow once two inches of snow has fallen. Further, as conditions allow, the Department will use its ‘brine trucks’ to apply liquid salt to some early-to-freeze roads.”


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