New York Storm Today May Be Preview for `Significant Snowfall' Next Week

A storm expected to dump about 5 inches of snow on New York City today may just be a preview for a system next week that has the potential for “significant snowfall,” according to the National Weather Service.

It would be the third storm in as many weeks for the New York area, still recovering from a post-Christmas blizzard that left 20 inches (51 centimeters) in Central Park.

“We have to keep an eye on that, but the potential is there for another significant snowfall through Tuesday and Wednesday,” said Brian Ciemnecki, a weather service meteorologist in Upton, New York. “The potential is there for 6 or more inches.”

Snow began falling shortly after daybreak in Manhattan, as winter storm warnings, watches and advisories stretch from eastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, through New York City and most of Connecticut into Massachusetts and Vermont. The snowfall is expected to end in the city tonight.

Some flights into Newark’s Liberty International Airport are being delayed for more than two hours, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Web site. Flights into Philadelphia and New York’s LaGuardia are running about an hour behind schedule.

Airline Cancellations

Delta Air Lines Inc. and its regional airline partners have canceled 175 flights today, primarily for cities in the northeastern U.S., said Anthony Black, a spokesman for the Atlanta-based airline. Delta, the second-biggest U.S. carrier, canceled 150 flights yesterday before the storm.

American Airlines canceled 20 flights at LaGuardia and Liberty airport, said Tim Smith, a spokesman. US Airways Group Inc. cut 14 flights in its main jet operations, said Todd Lehmacher, a spokesman.

“We are very optimistic that the snow will taper off in the next couple of hours and the impact to operations will be minimal for the rest of the day,” Lehmacher said.

The effect of the storm isn’t expected to be as extensive as in the after-Christmas blizzard because planes are less full and the system itself isn’t expected to be as strong, the carriers said.

NYC Prepares

The Long Island Rail Road, shut down by last week’s storm, will provide extra service today for passengers who want to leave work early, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said on its website. Buses have been fitted with chains and preparations made to keep rails free of ice and snow.

Some 1,700 snowplows were ready to help with snow removal, and city crews will employ video cameras and GPS systems to pinpoint areas of need, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference yesterday.

The Dec. 26-27 storm left some city streets unplowed for days and garbage pickups backlogged. It cost New York at least $20 million of its $38.8 million snow-removal budget, according to the Sanitation Department.

Boston may receive just a dusting from today’s storm, said Charlie Foley, a weather service meteorologist in Taunton, Massachusetts. The heaviest snow will fall in western Massachusetts, he said.

The current storm’s track didn’t include a dip across the southern U.S., so it doesn’t have the moisture that the blizzard had. However, next week’s storm may mirror the post-Christmas system more closely and that’s why forecasters are watching it.

Waiting, Watching

“If there’s a chance to repeat the Christmas weekend storm, that one would be a better setup,” said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC, a commercial forecaster in Bethesda, Maryland. “But it’s too early to get a firm handle on it. It could just as easily stay out to sea.”

MDA Federal Inc.’s Travis Hartman said he believes next week’s storm will be more of a threat for the Washington- Philadelphia corridor. New York and Boston probably aren’t in that much danger, said Hartman, an energy weather manager and meteorologist at MDA’s EarthSat Energy Weather in Rockville, Maryland.

Before arriving in the Northeast, the system will probably bring snow to the U.S. South, said Allan Huffman, a meteorologist for AirDat LLC in North Carolina, which installs weather-gathering sensors on commercial aircraft.

It’s possible that northern Mississippi, parts of Tennessee and North Carolina may see as much as 6 inches from the storm, Huffman said.

Earlier Storm

The post-Christmas blizzard shut above-ground New York City subway lines, disrupted travel on commuter trains and stranded holiday travelers at the three major area airports. Almost 8,000 flights were canceled.

Bloomberg said he was “dissatisfied” with the city’s response and promised an inquiry. Federal and local prosecutors are investigating whether New York sanitation workers deliberately delayed snow removal from streets, according to Diane Struzzi, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Investigation.

Bloomberg’s approval rating following the snowstorm dropped to 37 percent, the lowest since he took office Jan. 1, 2002, a Marist College poll said. For the first time in his nine-year tenure, a majority of voters, 53 percent, said the city was headed “in the wrong direction,” compared with 38 percent who consider it on the right path, the poll said.

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at Bsullivan10@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net.

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