NYC shakes things up for next storm

NEW YORK — As a snowstorm approaches with the power to pummel parts of New York with several inches, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking no chances of another political beating.

Less than two weeks after a post-Christmas blizzard paralyzed the city and its airports for days, the beleaguered mayor on Thursday detailed new and experimental plans for cleanup after the coming storm. Those include GPS devices on 50 sanitation trucks in Brooklyn, which was among the spots hardest hit by the last storm and worst neglected by the city.

“I realize there were problems with the city’s snow-cleaning efforts last week,” said Bloomberg, whose reputation as a pragmatic manager took a hit from the cleanup failures. “We want to assure all New Yorkers that we are doing everything in our power to make sure we don’t experience those kinds of problems again.”

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for New York City, plus parts of New Jersey, Connecticut and suburban Long Island, beginning Friday morning. Two to 5 inches of light snow could come overnight Thursday with heavier snow possible Friday into Saturday.

But forecasters say it’s difficult to nail down a possible total because accumulation will vary widely depending on where snow bands linger the longest. That means the Bronx, in the northern part of the city, could see as much as 18 inches, while Staten Island, on the southern end, could get just 3, for instance.

The late-December storms in the East caused the cancellation of more than 10,000 flights and delayed travel plans for hundreds of thousands of passengers.

Major U.S. airlines are again warning of delays and cancellations and waiving the usual fees to change flights. American, United and Continental all say there could be travel disruptions at large airports such as Newark, LaGuardia and Kennedy in the New York area.

Last month’s storm dumped 2 feet in some places. Many streets in boroughs outside Manhattan went unplowed for days, and ambulances and buses got stuck in the snow. Calls to 911 backed up, and some people who needed urgent medical care did not get it. The snow melted days later to reveal huge piles of trash that garbage trucks hadn’t been able to reach.

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