A man with an umbrella walks on Times Square during a snowstorm on Saturday in New York. (FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/Getty Images)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Saturday announced plans to suspend bus, rail and road travel in the New York City area, as snowfall forecasts for the region rose to as much as 30 inches.

“Thirty inches would be one of the most serious amounts of snowfall that we have had in decades and to protect public safety we’re going to be closing down the roads,” Cuomo said, citing National Weather Service forecasts in a news conference just after noon.

Cuomo suspended bus service in New York City starting at noon, with a ban on road travel set for 2:30 p.m. Inbound and outbound Long Island Railroad and Metro-North trains will stop running at 4 p.m., as will above-ground subway stations.

At the news conference, Cuomo reiterated that the snow itself is not his top concern.

“The most dangerous pitch from mother nature is the flooding,” he said. Officials say a full moon combined with the storm may bring severe coastal flooding—in near-record amounts in some parts of the East Coast.

Cuomo said he also expected the economic impact of the storm to be minimal.

“The economic damage will be nothing like what we went through in the past,” he said. “Superstorm Sandy was horrendous. This is a fraction of that in terms of economics.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) described the storm during a Saturday morning news conference as “one of the worst snowstorms in New York City history.” If more than 20 inches fall, the storm would rank among the top five dating back to 1869, he said.

The storm, which has wreaked havoc all along the East Coast, arrived in New York earlier than first expected and is expected to drop more snow than predicted.

“This is an hour-to-hour thing … we’re in a very different situation than we were last night,” De Blasio said. He also said it is “conceivable” that the state would suspend subway service, although he suggested that it did not appear likely at the time.


An ambulance stuck on Washington Street in Greenwich Village in New York City. (Sally Jenkins)

Cuomo (D) decared states of emergency in the city as well as Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam Counties.

“This is a major storm, and travel conditions throughout downstate New York are dangerous,” he said in a Saturday morning statement. “We are doing everything possible to keep the roads and mass transit operational, but unless there is an emergency people should not be traveling.”

DeBlasio was steadfast in his pleas with residents to remain inside and off the streets, urging storeowners to go home and parents to keep children close to home if they go out in the snow.

“I as a parent wouldn’t let my kids out of my sight,” he said.

Virtually all flights were canceled at LaGuardia, Newark International and JFK airports.