NEW YORK — It was a “routine blizzard” that was bearing down on them, not a superstorm, but New Yorkers couldn’t help but think about Sandy in the face of a snow-laden Nor’easter.
“I think it might even be worse than Sandy,” said Chip Gomes, a construction worker who took shelter from the snow in a 7-Eleven in White Plains as he waited for a bus. “There’s going to be flooding, right? I heard high winds. Plus this time we got snow.”
There was snow indeed. It started Friday morning and quickly caused problems with its first couple of inches, and another foot or so was predicted for parts of the metropolitan area and upstate by Saturday.
Airlines quickly abandoned most plans to fly to or from New York’s airports until Saturday, canceling more than 1,700 flights. Most schools — but not New York City’s — closed early or didn’t bother to open. Cars crashed on slippery roads in the city and its suburbs. Commuter lines ran extra trains out of the city for workers leaving Manhattan early, but Amtrak canceled service to the north.
The storm also forced the postponement of two “disaster recovery” workshops in the suburbs at which the Federal Emergency Management Agency was to help homeowners and businesses victimized by Sandy.
Forecasters and officials took pains to say the kind of damage that Sandy caused was not in the offing. State Director of Operations Howard Glaser said the storm was in some ways a “routine blizzard.” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said nothing like Sandy’s storm surge, which flooded areas of Manhattan, was expected. He emphasized that no evacuations were being ordered.
“Sandy was a big storm that was devastating to a lot of people,” the mayor said. “I don’t think this storm is going to do that.”
Nevertheless, in coastal areas of Queens and Long Island, not nearly recovered yet from Sandy, memories were easily stirred.
“A little snow doesn’t scare me,” said Leeann Rivera, 43, stocking up at the only major grocery store still open in the Sandy-ravaged Far Rockaway section of Queens. “But if we were talking about the type of damage that Sandy did, I’d be gone. I would leave New York right now.”
In Lindenhurst, Eddie Malone said he was frightened by the specter of more damage to his house, which has been under renovation since the October storm “wiped out” his first floor.
“I’m not afraid of the snow — instead, the sea surge, it may be seven feet,” said Malone. “I think Sandy was 12 or 13 feet but seven feet scares me. ... We had no power for two weeks and now I’m afraid we are going to lose it again.”
Douglas Beman, 30, of Greenburgh, was thinking of Sandy — and the long gas lines that followed it — as he filled his Tahoe and a 5-gallon gas can at a Mobil station.
“Sandy taught me this lesson,” he said. “Stock up on gasoline.
Bloomberg said the experience of the October superstorm helped city workers mobilize and work together. He said they were out in force to protect the homeless and remove stalled vehicles from streets. Water rescue units were on standby in low-lying areas prone to flooding, just in case, he said.
“Everybody’s gung-ho,” he said. “We’re ready for anything.
Con Edison spokesman Alfonso Quiroz said the utility had added hundreds of workers from other companies and would have “an army or crews out there to make restorations.” He said the flooding that ravaged the power system during Sandy wasn’t anticipated, but heavy snow was likely to take down some trees and the power lines near them, especially in Staten Island and Westchester.
Only about 130 customers had lost power by 3 p.m., he said.
National Grid, which took over storm preparations from the Long Island Power Authority after LIPA was lambasted for its Sandy problems, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
David Stark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said parts of the city were under a coastal flood advisory, and winds of up to 55 mph prompted a blizzard warning for part of Long Island, but he too said, “This is not a situation like Sandy. This is more typical of a classic Nor’easter.”
Snowfall predictions were 8 to 12 inches in the city, 10 to 15 in the lower Hudson Valley and 12 to 16 on Long Island.
Depths of 6 to 18 inches were forecast upstate. Poughkeepsie and Binghamton declared snow emergencies. In New York City, Bloomberg said he expected most streets would be more than passable by morning. “I see no reason to declare an emergency,” the mayor said.
Associated Press Writer Alison Barnwell contributed to this report.