New York avoids cleanup woes of Christmas blizzard

NEW YORK Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:09pm GMT

1 of 7. Commuters are seen crossing Broadway in Midtown Manhattan during the morning commute in New York, January 27, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City emerged largely unscathed on Friday from winter's latest blast, averting the woes of a blizzard over Christmas that brought the city to a halt.

Trains and buses were running at "near normal" levels, although some delays and detours were the result of the 19 inches of snow that fell in the storm that ended on Thursday, officials said.

"I am proud that we are operating close to a full weekday service today. As of 6:30 this morning, all of our subway lines were running a good service without delays," said Jay Walder, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, on the agency's web site.

The storm dropped 19 inches of snow in the city, just an inch shy of the snowfall over Christmas weekend that brought the city to a standstill.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg took heavy criticism for the city's response to the holiday blizzard, when streets went unplowed for days, hundreds of buses were stranded and ambulances and emergency workers struggled to reach people in distress.

Bloomberg vowed the city would stay on top of this storm's clean-up, hiring private contractors to pitch in and improving communication with snow plow operators.

As of Friday morning, commuter railroads were running normally, authorities said, from the city's northern, western and eastern suburbs.

No major delays were reported at the area's major airports, which were closed or saw significant delays on Thursday.

The storm, which dropped 19 inches of snow in Central Park, brought the month's accumulation to 36 inches, making it the snowiest January on record, forecasters said.

A further dusting of snow was likely in the afternoon, and more snow was expected in the Philadelphia area as well but it would probably be less than a half inch accumulation, forecasters at the National Weather Service said.

The calm may be short-lived as forecasters kept an eye on a major storm brewing for next week.

"A large winter storm forecast to unfold could adversely affect well over 100 million people next week from the Rockies to the Plains, South, Midwest and Northeast, if it develops to its full potential," wrote Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist on the web site.

"We are calling his system the Groundhog Day storm, and it will likely severely impact ground travel, and lead to canceled flights, school delays and closures," he wrote.

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, editing by Greg McCune)