Indeed, the New York Tristate area did a lot better than predicted. This was merely a severe winter storm, rather than a catastrophe. New England, which got upward of three feet of snow, feels differently, of course.
The gist behind the snark is that authorities and media over-caution. And that's dangerous snark, because it fuels the cynical complacency that prevented people from heeding warnings prior to Hurricane Sandy.
It's the same willful snarky ignorance that makes climate change deniers sneer about global warming during cold snaps, and makes climate change proponents sanctimonious whenever there's a forest fire or flood. One event proves nothing. An underwhelming superstorm doesn't mean all storms will underwhelm, a cold snap doesn't disprove overall warming, and a given weather quirk can't be blamed on carbon.
But this was a crazy, crazy storm. Winds may not have been savage, and snowfall might not have broken records everywhere, but the following NY Times report, about a driver on the Long Island Expressway, illustrates the freakiness:
"Barbara Barkiano, 43, a housecleaner, tried to make her way along the highway behind the plows, but the snow snapped both windshield wipers on her Honda Civic hybrid."Snapped her windshield wipers as she was driving? Who ever heard of such a thing??
The wiper-snapping rate of snowfall, and the Sandy-ish massive size of the storm (neither obvious from day-after observation) were just crazy.