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Snowstorm brings early test for N.Y.




McClatchy-Tribune News

NEW YORK -- On his first full day in office Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio faced a headache that has bedeviled many a mayor before him virtually every year: a large snowstorm.

At a news briefing shortly after swearing in his new police commissioner, former Los Angeles Police Department Chief William J. Bratton, De Blasio had some good news for New York. Forecasters were predicting just a few inches of snow overnight, less than first anticipated.

But east of the city, Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island were under a blizzard warning, as was Cape Cod in Massachusetts and some coastal areas of Maine and New Hampshire.

Boston's mayor, Thomas Menino, who steps down Monday after 20 years in office, announced schools would be closed today.

"Extended vacation, one last gift from Mayor Menino to students of Boston," the city said in a news release.

In Connecticut, state employees were let out of work early to beat the snow home. More than 5,000 flights were canceled or delayed nationwide in anticipation of the storm, and Boston's Logan International Airport said it would not handle any flights after 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

The Boston area is expected to get up to 14 inches of snow. This is nothing new for the city. Last year, it got 24.9 inches of snow in one February storm.

But this storm is something new for De Blasio, who campaigned on the idea that under his billionaire predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, New York became a "tale of two cities," right down to the distribution of snow plows.

For De Blasio, that came into clear focus in December 2010, when a storm dumped approximately 20 inches of snow on the city. For three days, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers living outside of Manhattan -- including De Blasio, then the city's public advocate -- waited for plows to clear their streets.

It was a debacle for Bloomberg, who conceded the city's response was "inadequate and unacceptable."

That won't happen this time, De Blasio vowed as the temperature outside fell into the 20s and winds whipped off the rivers surrounding Manhattan.

"I went to sleep with visions of snow in my head," said De Blasio, adding 450 salt-spreaders and 1,700 plows were ready to cover the 6,000 miles of streets in the city's five boroughs: Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island and Manhattan.