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Blizzard Shuts Down Big Apple

January 8, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ Normally jam-packed streets were virtually deserted this morning as the nation’s largest city struggled from under one of its deepest snowfalls this century.

The city’s 1 million schoolchildren enjoyed their first snow day since 1978, the United Nations closed and the New York Stock Exchange said it would open for only three hours.

One of the adventurous souls who went to work was attorney Michael Hess, who plodded down Fifth Avenue talking on his cellular phone, a newspaper tucked under his arm.

``I’m a born and bred New Yorker. We get through no matter what the weather,″ he said, marching toward his office in Rockefeller Center. ``I can even get some work done walking through the drifts.″

And telephone technician Jules Hinds said as he trudged to the subway in Queens: ``Everyone on TV says to stay home, but my boss said, `I got in so you get in.‴

Drifts reached 20 feet on runways at all three of the region’s airports, and they will be closed until at least Tuesday morning, said Port Authority chief operating officer John J. Colurra. About 1,800 people were stranded overnight at the airports.

The storm shut down two big commodity markets _ the New York Mercantile Exchange and the New York Commodity Exchange. The New York, American and Nasdaq stock exchanges didn’t open until 11 a.m. and planned to close at 2 p.m. instead of 4.

Even the Postal Service blinked, shutting down deliveries today, said spokeswoman Diane Todd.

By midafternoon, the storm had dumped 19.5 inches of snow in Central Park, making it the third-heaviest storm on record, and snow was still falling. Staten Island got 27.5 inches. Across the Hudson River in New Jersey, Newark Airport had a record 27.4 inches.

City weather records date to 1869, and in that time only two storms have surpassed 20 inches of snow in Central Park. The record, 26.4 inches, was set in December 1947. The other big storm was the famous Blizzard of 1888, when 21 inches fell.

At midday, city officials announced that schools would be closed for a second day Tuesday.

No deaths were reported in the city, but a 5-year-old boy was critically injured when he was hit by his father’s snow blower.

At least one New Yorker tried to be unfazed by the snow.

``I’m going someplace warm,″ said investment banker Regina Glocker, sliding through the snow to go shopping for a swimsuit to taken on a Caribbean vacation Friday. ``All you hope is you can get out.″

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