NEW YORK — Get your shovels ready.
The first blizzard of 2015 — which Mayor Bill de Blasio described as "one of the largest snowstorms in the history of this city" — is bearing down on the five boroughs and could dump up to 2 feet of snow on New York by Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service said.
Despite the massive amounts of white stuff, that forecast is a relief compared to the 3 feet that was being predicted Sunday.
"Prepare for something worse than we have seen before," de Blasio said in a press conference Sunday afternoon. "Try with everything you have to avoid being in the middle of this storm."
Forecasters issued a Blizzard Warning for New York City from Monday afternoon through Tuesday evening, predicting a nor'easter that will bring winds gusting up to 65 mph.
Officials urged commuters to leave work early on Monday, before the storm intensified around the evening rush hour. An inch of snow is expected to be on the ground by 3 p.m., with the real onslaught starting at night.
From 10 p.m. until sunrise Tuesday, there could be up to 4 inches falling per hour, the NWS said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo encouraged commuters to consider staying home from work altogether, and said that major roads and public transit networks — including the MTA, LIRR, PATH and Metro North — may be closed before the evening commute.
Schools will be open on Monday but after-school activities will be canceled, and schools will "likely" be closed on Tuesday, de Blasio said. Alternate-side parking will be suspended Monday and Tuesday and garbage and recycling pickup will be suspended as well.
De Blasio advised New Yorkers to stay out of city parks beginning Monday afternoon.
"Change your behavior starting right now," de Blasio said Sunday. "This is an unprecedented storm. We have to get ready right now."
The combination of wind and snow will reduce visibility and make roads slippery and dangerous, said Dave Bowers, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.com.
"Tomorrow night and into Tuesday morning, the intensity will be so great and the winds will be so strong, that’s when road crews will have a hard time keeping up with it," Bowers told DNAinfo New York Sunday afternoon.
"The visibility is going to be very poor at times, especially Monday night into Tuesday."
The snow and wind will continue during the day on Tuesday, and the storm could drop an additional 10 to 14 inches on the city before it clears out Tuesday evening.
The Sanitation Department issued a Snow Alert beginning on Monday at midnight, mobilizing salt spreaders and plows. The agency will deploy 2,100 of its own plows, plus about 240 from contractors and other agencies.
"This is likely to be an historic amount of snow," Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said.
Cuomo warned residents to expect travel and utility disruptions, including flight cancellations and road closures. He said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority would store trains in underground tunnels beginning Monday evening and would equip buses with chains or snow tires.
"With a major winter storm approaching the state, I urge New Yorkers to take all necessary precautions and make preparations for the possibility that commutes will be disrupted on Monday and Tuesday," Cuomo said in a statement Sunday afternoon.
"I have directed all state agencies to prepare for the snow storm and have equipment and resources in areas forecasted to be hit the hardest. We will continue to monitor the storm's path as it approaches New York, and I urge people to pay attention to changing weather advisories as they prepare for the snow."