The worst is yet to come.
The fourth New York City nor’easter of the month arrived Wednesday, bringing the familiar litany of woe: Massive airport delays, whipping winds and the threat of up to 18 inches of snow.
Forecasters predicted the powerful storm was likely to continue all night, following blizzard-like conditions expected between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. – when up to three inches per hour are expected to fall.
The snow won’t end until early Thursday morning.
“We expect a lot more as the day goes on,” warned Mayor de Blasio at a news briefing on the latest storm to pound the beleaguered city. “It’s going to accumulate very quickly.”
The storm claimed its first fatality when a van riding along the Wantagh State Parkway flipped in heavy snow, killing a female passenger and injuring five other riders around 10 a.m., according to Nassau County police. The woman was thrown from the white van and the survivors were all hospitalized.
Gov. Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the city along with Long Island and three northern counties, while New Jersey Gov. Murphy announced a state of emergency across the Hudson River.
All flights in and out of La Guardia Airport were canceled starting at noon, authorities said. And all NJ Transit buses will stop running at 3 p.m., accompanied by a shutdown of the Port Authority Bus Terminal hub in Midtown.
The first flakes began falling during the morning rush hour, with the initial effects felt at La Guardia, Kennedy and Newark Airports — a staggering 2,243 flights canceled by 8:30 a.m., according to FlightAware.com.
Flights from the two airports still operating will be impacted severely as the winds gust to more than 50 mph and the snow continues to fall into the wee hours of Thursday — with a winter storm warning in effect through 6 a.m.
The highest snow total in the city by mid-afternoon was 5 inches in Bayside, Queens, and 4.5 inches in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Those numbers were expected to double as the nor’easter raged on.
“This is a serious storm, not be taken lightly,” said Gov. Cuomo at a morning briefing. “It’s going to get worse. It’s a good day to stay home.”
City schools were shuttered as the National Weather Service warned of intensifying snow, with a 100% chance of heavy flakes blanketing the metropolitan area once the heavy stuff begins.
“We’re experiencing storms that we have never experienced before,” said the governor. “That is true. There’s a higher frequency and more severity to the storms.”
The powerful wind gusts, combined with the wet and heavy snow, threatened to repeat the recent bad news scenarios of downed power lines and trees throughout the region — although Cuomo put the area’s utilities on notice about their response to the weather.
“Utility companies are not granted their licenses by God,” said Cuomo, noting lengthy outages after an earlier nor’easter and threatening sanctions. “It’s not in the Old Testament that these utility companies have to have the license.”
Amtrak, Metro-North and NJ Transit had already scaled back service, with a limited “severe weather schedule” in effect for Garden State buses and trains. Most long-distance bus routes from the Port Authority transit hub were scuttled by 10 a.m.
The city also suspended its ferry service to the Rockaways.
Drivers were forcefully urged to keep their cars in the garage as visibility is expected to suffer dramatically once the heavier snow starts falling with threats of white-out conditions.
“Travel will be very difficult to impossible, especially during the evening commute,” according to a NWS advisory.
Many commuters heeded the call as ridership was down on the subways and commuter rail lines. Subway signal problems created problems during the morning rush hour on the J and Z lines, along with delays on the No. 2, 4 and 5 lines.
A tractor-trailer ban was in effect along portions of I-84, I-95, I-287, I-684 and the New York State Thruway due to the high winds.
The city Buildings Department notified all builders, contractors, crane operators, and property owners to take the proper precautions with their construction sites, buildings and equipment.
The wintry weather was expected to blanket New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and parts of Pennsylvania before moving into New England. By Thursday afternoon, sunshine with temperatures in the mid-40s were expected in the city and the suburbs.
The city dodged a confounding nor’easter last week, but it pounded Long Island’s eastern end as well as New England.
With JILLIAN JORGENSEN