Brooklyn brr-eaks the ice: Winter storm unleashes borough’s biggest snowfall in 2 years

snowstorm in brooklyn
A look out at Avenue M amid Tuesday’s ongoing snowstorm.
Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

Brooklyn was covered in a blanket of white snow Tuesday, thanks to a winter storm that’s expected to deliver the five boroughs’ biggest snowfall in two years.

As of 7:50 a.m. on Feb. 13, the National Weather Service said some areas of the Big Apple had reported heavy snowfall rates of 1-2 inches per hour. By about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol reported about 3 to 4 inches of snow observed on the ground, and that citywide, storm totals could range between 4 to 6 inches.

As of early afternoon, much of the fallen snow in Brooklyn had turned to slush — but flakes are continuing to fall in some areas.

Ahead of the anticipated storm, New York City public schools were shifted to remote learning for Tuesday. But all is not going according to plan; the Department of Education reported that they are having technical difficulties with the system students and teachers use to log into class.

“We are currently experiencing issues with services that require IBM authentication to login,” the DOE posted on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) Tuesday morning at 8:22 a.m. “We are actively working with IBM to resolve. We will provide an update as soon as possible.”

The DOE has since reported that IBM “added capacity and improvements are rolling out across the system” in order to address the issue.

subway platform snow
A snowy Q train platform. Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

The Sanitation Department, meanwhile, mobilized its fleet of more than 700 salt spreaders and 2,000 garbage trucks equipped with plows. The entire city has been plowed at least once thus far, according to Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch.

The city’s Transportation Department suspended alternate-side parking rules (though you’ll still need to feed the meters). 

“Please stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary,” Mayor Eric Adams posted on X on Tuesday morning. “If you must travel, please use public transportation.”

The MTA has reported some subway disruptions as of noon Tuesday. Southbound B train service were forced to shift to the local track from Brighton Beach to Kings Highway due to a switch problem at Brighton Beach, where the line runs above-ground. The N train is also running on the local track in Brooklyn between 59th and 36th Streets because some trains are being stored on the express track underground.

Buses are also running at or close to schedule; on Monday, crews equipped many of the vehicles with snow chains to ensure continued operation in even the worst conditions. Visit MTA.info for the latest details on service changes. 

The storm also closed Brooklyn libraries, and institutions like the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and halted a number of scheduled community board meetings. Perhaps most notably, the frigid weather put Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso’s annual State of the Borough Address on ice. The beeps’ office has promised to alert Brooklynites to the rain date once it is chosen.

It has been a very long time since New York City saw a snowstorm like the one hitting the city today. The last time Central Park recorded a snowfall of more than 1 inch was two years ago Tuesday, to be exact, when 2.3 inches of snow fell on Feb. 13, 2022.

Aside from the disruptions, the snowstorm brings with it opportunities for sledding and other wintry fun later. The snow itself is perfect for both — wet and fluffy, a handful packs very well into ideal ammunition for snowball fights. 

Earlier this year, the city snapped its longest snowless streak ever, at 701 days, when 1.3 inches of snow fell in Central Park on Jan. 16. That pittance of precipitation came on the heels of a study which connected the dramatic drop in snowfall in the northeastern United States with the impacts of climate change.

The anticipated storm also comes 10 days after Groundhog Day, when Staten Island Chuck and his fellow prognosticating rodents on the eastern seaboard predicted an early spring. 

And the city reminds all property owners that they must make sure to shovel their sidewalks in a timely manner.

Should the snow stop falling before 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Emergency Management office, property owners must shovel their sidewalks within four hours. If the snow ends between 5 and 9 p.m., they must shovel within 14 hours. Failing to shovel sidewalks could result in a costly fine of between $100 and $150.

Also, do not shovel snow into the street, as it will impede plow operations.