A change in the path of Tuesday’s winter storm is sparing New Yorkers from the 16 to 20 inches predicted a day earlier by Mayor de Blasio.
The snow is instead expected to give way to a wintry mix of sleet or rain.
“As far as the projections and how it looked from a snow standpoint, New York dodged a bullet,” said Peter Wichrowski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
What made the difference: The storm stuck close along the coast, where warm air on its east side changed the expected snow into a sloppier, wetter storm. Long Island and areas along the Jersey Shore were already seeing rain mixed with snow Tuesday morning.
“The storm track was a little further to the west, by 50 miles,” explained Wichrowski. “Once that happened, enough warm air swept in off the ocean. You begin to get a mix — snow, sleet and now rain in parts of Long Island.”
Gov. Cuomo offered a less scientific explanation: “Mother Nature is an unpredictable lady sometimes. And she was unpredictable once again today.”
By 9 a.m., the weather service had recorded total snowfalls of 6 inches in the Bronx, 6.5 inches in Howard Beach, Queens, 4 inches in Central Park and 3 inches on Staten Island. North and west of the city, forecasters were still expecting up to two feet of the white stuff.
New York was likely to get another 1 to 3 inches of snow and sleet through the afternoon.
The odds were always against a foot of snow in the month of St. Patrick. In the last 107 years, the city had just three March storms of a foot or more, said Tyler Roys, an Accuweather meteorologist. The last major March snowfall dumped 10.6 inches on the city in March 1993.
“For those who really do not like snow, yes they were lucky,” said Roys. “Those wishing for a foot of snow, they’re going to have to wait.”