The weather trapped drivers on slushy roads — some were trapped on the George Washington Bridge for more than six hours — stranded commuters in a packed Port Authority Bus Terminal and left some kids stuck on school buses for hours. In one case, five children left their school in Manhattan around 2 p.m. but didn't get home to The Bronx until after midnight, City Councilman Ben Kallos said.
The storm also knocked down hundreds of trees, leading to more than 1,300 service requests from New Yorkers as of Friday morning, according to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
The Department of Sanitation's failure to clear the roads spurred a blizzard of criticism from lawmakers and other New Yorkers.
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But de Blasio said the city was caught in a "perfect storm" of unfortunate circumstances, including a bad forecast and a "chain reaction" stemming from the George Washington Bridge's closure.
"We got just every form of bad luck we could have gotten yesterday," de Blasio said on NY1 Friday morning.
The Sanitation Department had nearly 700 salt spreaders deployed by noon, but the heavier-than-expected snowfall required plows to be sent out, said Melinda Bager, a department spokeswoman.
The weather forecast changed too late in the day for the city to properly warn drivers to stay off the roads, and the subsequent traffic nightmare impacted Sanitation's work, de Blasio said. He urged drivers to stay out of their cars Friday if they could.
The closure of several bridges also contributed to the mess, Bager said.
"Tree branches also snapped from the weight of the snow, blocking many streets," she said in an email. "In all, more than 1,000 pieces of equipment were working through the night to clear all roadways for the morning's rush hour."
The mayor pledged a "full review" of the chaos that unfolded Thursday.
"I'm not happy with the end result, obviously," he said. "It's unacceptable. That said, I don't think it's as simple as one factor or another."
But some City Council members slammed the Sanitation Department for failing to do its job. Bronx Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson said she was stuck in traffic herself for nearly nine hours. She called it "one of the WORST nights of my life."
"Something went horribly wrong today," Gibson wrote on Twitter. "The response to the snow was a complete failure. So disappointed."
Councilman Fernando Cabrera (D-Bronx) called for a hearing on the snafu, saying the Sanitation Department failed to follow its own snow operation plan.
"Rather than the term 'all systems go' today's response by the Sanitation Department can only be described as 'all systems fail,'" Cabrera said in a statement late Thursday.
Ripple effects of the chaos could still be felt Friday morning. Delays and service changes roiled the entire MTA bus system, and seven subway lines were slammed with delays as of about 9:15 a.m.
While public schools were open, the Department of Education canceled after-school programs and all field trips involving yellow buses.
Officials urged New Yorkers to stay out of city parks because of high winds and weak trees loaded down with snow and ice.