NEW YORK — The New York City Department of Sanitation issued a snow alert for Sunday, as a winter storm that's already walloped the Midwest makes its way to the Northeast.
The alert goes into effect at 3 a.m. on Dec. 1, and allows the department to prepare for a possible response by loading salt spreaders, attaching plows and preparing tire chains and notifying other city agencies, but it does not guarantee snow will fall.
A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for areas north and west of New York City on Sunday and Monday, according to the National Weather Service, along with a Winter Storm Warning for areas further north and west, and a Winter Storm Advisory in areas further south.
Winds out of the northwest will make temperatures feel like they're in the teens, with wind chill feeling like 15 degrees in Newark and 14 degrees in Mount Vernon.
A wintry mix is expected to develop in the tri-state area by late Sunday morning, and then gradually changes over to rain for the city and the coast as warm air moves into the area; inland areas north and west of the city will see a changeover to a mix of sleet and rain.
Sunday night, rain continues for the city and coast, with a wintry mix well north and west of the city.
As the storm system begins to pull away, colder air works its way into the region, with a transition back to snow expected for all areas Monday morning. This will lead to more travel troubles on Monday, with bands of snow continuing throughout the day and into Monday night.
Some weather models indicate the city could get as much as 5 inches of snow, while areas west of the city could get anywhere from 8 inches to a foot. All of the weather models are suggesting we could see 5.5 inches of snow in New York City.
As the storm continues its eastward movement, it'll affect post-Thanksgiving travel on Sunday and Monday — one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell said a Travel Advisory would be in effect, and commuters are encouraged to take mass transit Monday morning, she said, as snow is expected to hamper Monday evening's commute.
"It's going to be a sloppy, messy two days," she said.
By Saturday morning, there were already more than 700 flight cancellations and 4,000 flight delays in the US, according to flight tracking sites.
Major airlines are trying to ease the concerns of travelers by issuing waivers for those who need to adjust their plans, putting safety first from the skies, to the rails to the roadways.
"If you are in a car take it very slowly. We encourage everyone to take mass transit, and want to make sure everyone stays safe," said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.
Garcia says 705 spreaders are loaded, and the department will add 1,500 plows on Monday if needed.
Governor Cuomo is also planning on arriving later Saturday night from his family trip in Puerto Rico to help prepare for the storm.
The Department of Sanitation and Emergency Management officials discussed preparations for the upcoming "messy" storm.