By Victoria Cavaliere
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers got a reprieve from the relentless winter weather on Wednesday only to find that the season's wrath created a fresh menace of large chunks of snow and ice falling from skyscrapers to the sidewalks below.
Several streets in Lower Manhattan around One World Trade Center, the city's tallest building, had to be closed when packs of snow and ice began to melt and fall from the 1,776-foot (541 meter) building, according to the city's Office of Emergency Management.
Some of the falling icicles and snow chunks were 2 to 3 feet in length, posing potential dangers to pedestrians and vehicles below, officials said.
More than 57 inches of snow have fallen on New York City since the start of winter, twice the normal amount, according to the National Weather Service.
Much of the precipitation remained frozen until the warmer temperatures on Wednesday, when the thermometer hovered in the low 40s F (5 to 7 degrees C).
"It is important that people realize that the large amounts of snow, sleet and freezing rain doesn't just accumulate on the ground. It accumulates on landings and balconies and roofs out of our line of sight," said National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro.
Cycles of melting and refreezing can create massive snow blocks and dagger-shaped icicles, he said.
"It's a dangerous and potentially deadly problem because gravity brings that snow and ice at a high speed towards the ground," Vaccaro said.
Building owners are responsible for clearing roofs, balconies and overhangs of ice and snow, according to the New York City Department of Buildings.
Vaccaro warned that colder temperatures overnight could create slick conditions on the ground as well as danger overhead.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Leslie Adler)