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Blizzard closes schools, cancels flights after dumping 8 to 12 inches of snow on city


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The worst snow storm of the season wallopped New York with a wicked one-two punch Monday, closing public schools for the first time in five years, snarling traffic, and stranding thousands of fliers at area airports.


By mid-morning, there was already seven inches of snow recorded in Central Park.


And the one-day record for March snowfall in Manhattan - 10 inches set in 1896 - appeared in danger of falling.


"Obviously, based on our forecast, that is in jeopardy," said Gary Conte, a National Weather Service meteorologist. "March is coming in like a lion."


The storm, which slammed into the city Sunday night, was expected to depart around the time many of us will be making the long slog home, Conte said.


Whipped by fierce winds, the blinding snow made the morning commute a misery for the millions who were forced to trudge through knee-deep drifts in places.


"If I wanted this, I would have stayed in Milwaukee," said one disgusted traveller marching through the mushy slop outside Penn Station.


While no problems were reported on the subways, commuter trains and buses were running late coming in from Westchester, Long Island and New Jersey.


It was snow biz - not show biz - on Broadway as some of the 2,000 sanitation workers deployed by Mayor Bloomberg struggled to clear the Great White Way of the great white snow.


"This is probably going to be the largest snowstorm we've seen in this year," said Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty.


"We're going to be making every effort to have the roadways open."


Wall Street opened for business, but there were groans on the trading floor as the Dow plummetted below 7,000 for the first time in 12 years.


"It took me two hours to get here today," one trader said. "And for what?"


Snow grounded 350 flights at Newark Airport, 115 at Kennedy Airport - and a whopping 450 flights at LaGuardia Airport, said Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico.


"The runways are clear and the taxiways are clear," Marsico said. "(But) the weather conditions are making it more difficult to get in and out of the airport."


For those of us who didn't need to get anywhere in particular, it was winter wonderland time.


Determined joggers raced like ghosts through the swirling snow in Central Park while cross-country skiers cut across the Sheep Meadow before disappearing into the distance.


In Prospect Park, some of the 1.1 million public school students celebrated their first snow day since Jan. 28, 2004 by wallowing in the whiteness.


"I'd be in AP English right now," said 16-year-old Claire Littlefield, her cheeks almost as shiny as her bright orange sled. "It's a miracle!"


Ava Robinson, glazed with snow from sledding, was beaming.


"I'm so happy," the 15-year-old said. "I'm really excited. This is perfect."


By Adam Lisberg and Corky Siemaszko


March 2nd 2009



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The previous storm was much worse than this. But if it closes down school, that's all I need to hear!

This storm isn't really that bad arsed. What was frightening, really, was the winds. The storm ebbed away now, before at noon, I heard frequent howls.

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