HARLEM — It could cost taxpayers between $19.9 million and $27.9 million to dig out from Thursday's fast-falling snowstorm, according to an estimate by Comptroller Scott Stringer.
The estimate is based on an average snow removal cost of $1.99 million per inch from fiscal year 2003 to fiscal year 2016. Forecasts called for between 10 and 14 inches of snow.
The city budgeted $88 million for snow removal for fiscal year 2017 and has spent $26 million so far.
“It’s always important to remember that snowstorms cost money, and the more transparent we are about those costs, the better we’re able to budget in the future," Stringer said in a statement.
If the city gets 10 inches of snow there will be enough to remove 21 additional inches of snow this year. If the city gets 14 inches, there will be enough budgeted for 17 inches.
In fiscal year 2016, the average snow cost per inch was $3.28 million. Only 2007 and 2012 had higher annual averages. Snow and ice removal costs peaked at $130.6 million in fiscal year 2014.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city had 2,300 pieces of equipment out to tackle the snow.
That included smaller salt spreaders and snow haulers to tackle tiny streets in Queens and Staten Island. The city spent $21 million to purchase the equipment.
At one point during the storm, six inches of snow fell in two hours at LaGuardia Airport.
A winter storm warning is expected to be in effect until 6 p.m. and de Blasio said its likely that schools will be open on Friday.
Asked if the city was becoming more wimpy because of his request that people stay inside during the storm, de Blasio said no.
"I think when you're talking about a super concentrated snowstorm, which, you know, let's say five, six hours of unusually intense snow, it is just plain common sense to not go out in that if you don't have to," said the mayor. "This is one of the toughest, most resilient cities on earth, and we've proven it a thousand times over."