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Northeast blizzard gives New Yorkers a day to play

2:42 PM, Feb 9, 2013   |    comments
A shirtless jogger runs through New York's Central Park Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. (Photo: Richard Drew, AP)
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New York City - Below-freezing temperatures and about eleven inches of wet snow didn't dampen the spirits of those who headed to Central Park for some sledding, skiing and strolling.

Men, women and children -- many donned in heavy jackets, colorful snowsuits and knitted hats -- took advantage of the first major snowfall this winter.

Janet Hamilton,who lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, used her cross-country skis to traverse the park. Gauri Pradhan, another Big Apple resident, took photos of the snow-covered scenery.

"It's pretty," she said, while holding her camera and looking across the white landscape.

At a nearby coffee shop in Central Park, a long line snaked, with many folks ordering warm coffee and hot chocolate.

Large and small dogs romped through the snow, while parents pulled kids on brightly-hued sleds.

Families took in some downhill sledding. Kids - as well as parents - laughed and yelled with delight as they each slid down hills on plastic sleighs.

Outside Central Park, doorman used long brooms to clear the piled-up snow from the awnings of apartment buildings.

Postal workers, still making Saturday mail delivery for now, were out on the city streets. Shop workers cleared the snow from the front of their stores with shovels and snowblowers.

Although Nemo piled significant amounts of snow on New York City, "We certainly avoided the worst of it," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Saturday morning.

Prior to the storm, Bloomberg let Big Apple residents know that their city was prepared. "We're ready for #Nemo: We have 250,000+ tons of salt on hand, 350 salt spreaders & plows ready to be put on 1,800 Sanitation trucks," he tweeted via @MikeBloomberg to his more than 441,000 followers late Thursday afternoon.

The official twitter feed for the NYC Mayor's office also offered up a bit of trivia in its communications. "Fun fact: There are 6,300 street miles in New York City to be plowed and salted -- that's like going from NYC to LA and back," said @NYCMayorsOffice.

New York City, which was hit hard by power outages after Superstorm Sandy, had fewer than 400 electrical outages as of 8am Saturday, Con Edison reported. Most mass transit in the city was running Saturday morning, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.

Many nearby areas outside New York City were slammed with more snow - and had more troubling situations with transportation and electrical issues.

The blizzard walloped Connecticut, dumping preliminary snowfall totals of 29.8 inches on New Haven and 34 inches on Hamden, according to the National Weather Service.

"This is a record-setting storm," said Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy early Saturday "It's going to take time to dig out of the snow."

In Upton on eastern Long Island there was a preliminary total of 30.3 inches at the National Weather Service office there.

"We may be in the top 10 (largest snowfalls in recent history) for Suffolk County, and maybe in the top five," said David Stark, a meteorologist working at the Upton office Saturday morning.

The storm also stranded approximately 200 motorists on highways and roads during the storm, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a Saturday afternoon press briefing.

"We're taxed. We're still trying to rescue people in a number of places and get them home," a spokesman for the Suffolk County Police Department, located on Long Island, said Saturday morning. "We have the National Guard and the State Police helping us."

Suffolk County was New York State's hardest-hit area, said Cuomo.

"Suffolk has sustained significant damage and significant hardship as a result of the storm," said Cuomo. He also said that a dditional snowplows from adjacent Nassau County and from New York City were en route to help eastern Long Island dig out, Cuomo said.

New York was also sending plows, personnel and other storm-response aid to Connecticut and Massachusetts, he said, explaining that "this state had (storm-related) consequences, but nothing like out neighboring states."

"We're getting too much experience in emergency management," said Cuomo, citing the blizzard, Superstorm Sandy and other recent storms. "I truly hope we don't have any more experience in the coming weeks and months."

Laura Petrecca and Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY

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