Jan Gautam was organizing his snow-plowing crews overnight in the way that an elite coach preps a team for a championship game.
“This is what we work for and what we train for during the summers,” Mr. Gautam, who manages a snow-plowing business based in Manhattan, said by phone from his warehouse in Queens, midway through an all-nighter.
New York City was bracing early Tuesday for what could be its heaviest snowfall in over two years. Crews from Mr. Gautam’s company, Novus Maintenance, would start reporting for work at 3 a.m., he said.
The crews operate 10 vehicles and assorted snow-removal equipment. Trucks work best for the relatively wide boulevards of Brooklyn and Queens; sidewalk machines are better suited to Manhattan’s urban canyons.
Mr. Gautam said his regular crews, fortified by extra staff, planned to serve about 200 regular clients across the city, including hospitals, hotels and apartment buildings, plus an onslaught of new customers.
“A lot of people tend to forget about the snow, especially now” because this winter has been relatively mild so far, he said. “So tomorrow our phones will ring.”
A few logistical factors made preparing for the nor’easter a bit harder than for other storms, he said. Initially some forecasts called for only an inch or so of snow, and the precipitation was expected to start around 6 a.m. But by Monday evening, the expected snowfall totals had risen to as much as eight inches, and the storm’s expected start time had been moved up to 4 a.m.
It also does not help that the storm is starting as rain, he said. Rain prevents snow-plowing crews from pre-treating roads and sidewalks with salt because rain would wash the salt away.
Mr. Gautam was speaking with a reporter late Monday as he walked to his car from his warehouse in Long Island City. He was planning to drive across the East River to the company’s headquarters in the Chrysler Building, where he would check in with his dispatchers who manage his crews.
He said that he expected calls to begin flooding in from clients by about 8 a.m.
“For us it’s a lot of preparation,” he said, “but also excitement that we finally have some snow.”