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Queens takes it easy on snow day

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A wall of white slammed into Queens and the rest of the city Sunday night and Monday morning, dumping as much as 10 inches of snow on the borough but causing mostly minimal headaches for commuters and city agencies.

The largest snowstorm of the season began around 7 p.m. Sunday night. Some 1,300 city sanitation workers worked throughout the night to plow the road, officials said.

The massive nor’easter stretched from Maryland to Maine at one point, but dissipated Monday night after dropping the heaviest snowfall in the city in Queens.

Some 10.5 inches had accumulated in Astoria by 4 p.m. Monday, according to the National Weather Service. John F. Kennedy International Airport had 6.7 inches, the NWS said. Nearly a foot of snow was visible along brick walls outside TimesLedger Newspapers’ offices in Bayside.

Though express service on the No. 7 subway line was suspended Monday morning, rail service in the borough appeared to be operating normally by midday.

In other parts of the metropolitan area, commuter buses and the Metro North railroad were experiencing delays of between 20 and 30 minutes, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Airports were another story, however.

More than 900 flights were canceled at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty, the mayor said.

Circumstances were less dire Tuesday, with LaGuardia reporting seven cancellations, JFK reporting the cancellations of 47 arrivals and 56 departures and Newark reporting no flight delays.

The storm also prompted the first closure of the city’s schools in five years.

Speaking at the Sanitation Department’s Maspeth garage Monday, Bloomberg emphasized the novelty of the early March snowstorm that kept thousands of workers off the roads and at home.

“It’s a good day to visit your neighbors, shop with friends or go out to your favorite restaurant,” the mayor said, noting the city Parks Department was offering free sledding and hot chocolate at parks in each borough, including Lower Highland Park in Ridgewood.

Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said his goal was to keep the major roads and highways open for the Monday morning commute. Doherty said he remembered the notorious snowstorm of Feb. 9, 1969, that dumped 15 inches of snow on the city and crippled it, causing 42 deaths, including 21 in Queens. “Last night was a long, cold night and I think they accomplished what I was looking for,” he said.

No fatalities were immediately reported in the city from Monday’s snowfall, though one elderly woman in New Jersey may have succumbed to the cold on the roof of a nursing home, according to published reports.

Bloomberg, for his part, dismissed any comparisons with the 40−year−old incident that helped ruin Mayor John Lindsay’s relationship with Queens.

“It never occurred to me until John [Doherty] joked about it outside,” he said. “After seven years of doing it every time, if they haven’t shown you they can do it, I don’t know what I could do.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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