Overpreparation for an epic blizzard across parts of the northeastern United States could cost some states hundreds of millions of dollars. Predictions of a historic blizzard brought a number of major cities to a halt Monday night as roads and mass transit systems were shut down in anticipation of the storm. While the forecasts didn't match the actual snowfall levels as of Tuesday, the economic costs of the robust preemptive measures taken ahead of the blizzard, nicknamed “Juno,” were expected to fall far short of the $15 billion to $50 billion economic toll of the polar vortex and other significant snowfalls in early 2014.
"We think the economic impact of the storm is going to be relatively small," said Evan Gold, senior vice president at weather advisory firm Planalytics, according to a report by NBC. "We're estimating at about $500 million, and that's simply based on the duration of the storm, the timing of the storm and the population centers that are impacted.”
Other estimates put the cost of the blizzard at around $1 billion, taking into account lost business, wages and taxes, as well as the cost of snow removal across New England, New York and New Jersey. A one-day storm in Massachusetts costs the state economy about $265 million, while in New York the total cost is around $700 million, according to the Boston Globe. A significant portion of these totals can be traced to lost wages for hourly workers, which tend to be hit the worst by snow-related shutdowns, based on a study cited by the news outlet.
Flight cancellations, another significant cost of blizzards, actually hit passengers harder than they hit the airline companies, according to CNN. The cost of the delay or cancellation of about 1 million flights last winter cost airlines $500 million and passengers about $5.3 billion due to additional out-of-pocket expenses around cancellations.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the economic impact of the state’s overpreparation for the storm was one of the “costs of doing business” in a press conference Tuesday morning. “We factor that in ---things like snow removal, salt purchases, overtime for crew to handle storms, these are factored in the budget and this was not exceptional to that process,” he said, adding that he was not yet sure what the total cost of the storm would be for the state.
The aftermath of the storm could see a boost for retailers, said NBC, which pointed to improved sales for stores like Home Depot following Hurricane Sandy. However, the storm this week is unlikely to have as significant impact.