Philip D. Murphy, the governor of New Jersey, joined in the finger-pointing, blaming weather forecasts for underestimating the storm and officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for their handling of the crowds at the bus terminal in Midtown Manhattan.
“Yesterday gave forecasting a bad name,” Mr. Murphy said, calling the predictions of the storm’s intensity “lousy.”
Mr. Murphy said one person had died in an accident when a car got stuck on train tracks.
Kathryn Garcia, the city’s sanitation commissioner, defended the snow-clearing effort. “Given the forecast, I do think we were adequately prepared,” she said, though she added, “I think there are a lot of lessons that will be learned from this.”
Ms. Garcia said the city had deployed its entire fleet of about 700 salt spreaders before the snow grew heavy, but many of them were stuck for hours on highways that feed into the George Washington Bridge — essentially bringing their efforts to a standstill in northern Manhattan and the Bronx.
The bridge, a crucial link in the region’s road network, serves about 300,000 vehicles crossing between New York and New Jersey each weekday. During the storm, two major accidents on the upper level shut down traffic in both directions, said Rick Cotton, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
If the Department of Sanitation had known the snow was going to be so heavy, Ms. Garcia said, it would have rolled out an additional 1,600 plows at once. Instead, she added, workers had been scheduled for staggered shifts, so there were only enough people to drive 350 to 700 plows at any one time.
In the suburbs, travel on major highways also came to a halt, and icy conditions and countless accidents made some side streets impassable.