New York Faces Storm That May Pack 13 Inches of Snow

New York City may receive more than a foot of snow in a storm that hit the morning rush hour as a mix of ice and rain.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning that started at 6 a.m. and runs through 6 p.m. tomorrow, and forecast as much as 13 inches (33 centimeters) of snow. “This will make travel very hazardous or impossible,” the agency said in a statement on its Web site.

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“Expect the steadiest and heaviest snow to fall from mid- morning Thursday through Thursday evening,” the weather service said. “Snow may mix with rain for brief periods of time on Thursday. If no mixing-in occurs, amounts will be up towards the higher end of the range, if not more.”

Continental Airlines Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. canceled some of their flights into the area, while Amtrak canceled some trains.

Winter storm warnings, meaning heavy snow, ice and freezing rain are imminent, were issued for a swath of the Northeast, including parts of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. In Washington, snow was forecast before 10 a.m., and winds may gust as high as 37 miles (60 kilometers) an hour, the weather service said.

The Washington-Baltimore corridor may receive as much as five inches of snow in the storm, according to Brandon Peloquin, a weather service meteorologist in Sterling, Virginia.

Flights Canceled

The system is the latest from an El Nino-driven weather pattern that has pushed moist air across the southern U.S., where it has mixed with colder air coming down from the Arctic, Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group in Bethesda, Maryland, said.

The result has been record snows from Washington to Philadelphia. El Nino is a warming of the Pacific Ocean that occurs every two to five years and lasts about 12 months.

Continental, the fourth-largest U.S. carrier, canceled all flights today from Newark Liberty International Airport by regional partners including Continental Express and Pinnacle Airlines Corp.’s Colgan unit, said Mary Clark, a spokeswoman for the Houston-based carrier. The cancellations involve “several hundred” flights, Clark said. She didn’t have a more specific number.

Delta, the world’s largest carrier, canceled 65 flights in the New York area for today, said Susan Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based company. UAL Corp.’s United Airlines scrapped 70 flights yesterday because of weather and was considering plans for today, Sarah Massier, a spokeswoman, said.

Canceled Trains

Amtrak canceled eight trains on its Empire Service lines in the upstate New York area, said a spokeswoman, Karina Romero.

In northern New Jersey, as much as 18 inches of snow may fall, the weather service said. Parts of Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire and Rhode Island were issued with flood watches, with as much as 3 inches of rain forecast.

Today’s will be from the second storm to hit the area this week. A system brought rain to New York City and almost two feet of snow to western Massachusetts starting Feb. 23, disrupting air traffic in Newark, Boston, Baltimore and New York.

“The Northeast is being impacted by one storm now, and the monster storm is going to impact the region tomorrow into Friday,” Eric Wilhelm of private forecaster said yesterday. “A really complex situation is developing in the Northeast.”

Power Failures Likely

On the Massachusetts coast, sustained winds of 30 mph are expected, with gusts as intense as 50 mph, according to a weather service high wind watch issued for the area.

“There could be real problems with power outages,” Wilhelm said. “That could be the real legacy of this storm.”

More than 50,000 customers in the Albany area and western Massachusetts were left without power by the storm that moving north through New England yesterday, according to utilities.

High winds may also create wind-chill problems that will boost energy consumption, Rogers said. Temperatures in the region are expected to be in the 30s Fahrenheit, while the wind will make it feel colder.

Demand for heating oil may be 8 percent higher than normal through March 3, according to Weather Derivatives, a Belton, Missouri, forecaster. Heating oil for March delivery rose 0.98 cent, or 0.5 percent, yesterday to settle at $2.0421 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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