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Wintry Storm Delays Flights in Washington, Atlanta

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- A wintry storm stretching over parts of the central and southern U.S. delayed flights in Washington, Philadelphia and Atlanta and may leave 1 to 3 inches of snow on the nation’s capital while bypassing the Northeast.

The system prompted storm warnings and advisories from southern New Jersey to South Carolina, the National Weather Service said.

“This system will have a real tough time getting into Philadelphia and I doubt it will get to New York and Boston,” said Tom Kines, a meteorologist with commercial forecaster AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

A second system that is expected to move east over the weekend has a better chance of bringing snow to the Northeast, including New York and Boston, he said.

Natural gas for January delivery, which had been declining on forecasts for milder temperatures later this month, fell 17.4 cents, or 4.1 percent, to settle at $4.048 per million British thermal units after the Energy Department reported stockpiles dropped last week. About 52 percent of U.S. households use natural gas for heat.

Washington’s Reagan National Airport reported delays of about 50 minutes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s website. Some flights to Washington Dulles were held by the snow and ice, the FAA said.

Cloud Cover

Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, where rain fell, reported waits of about 20 minutes because of heavy cloud cover, and overcast skies caused delays of about 90 minutes in Philadelphia.

Federal government offices remained open, although workers were given the option of leaving early or working from home, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management website.

According to a Weather Service snowfall map, about 2.5 inches of snow fell in western Maryland and Virginia. Less than an inch was recorded for metropolitan Washington as of 1:21 p.m.

In West Virginia, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin asked state offices to close at 3 p.m., according to a statement. As much as 6 inches of snow has fallen across that state, according to John Victory, a Weather Service meteorologist.

Chicago Snow

Another storm is over Chicago and may make the commute home there a mess today, Kines said. There is a chance about an inch of snow will fall late this afternoon, as many workers are leaving for the day.

He said Boston stands the best chance of being hit by snow over the weekend.

“I don’t think the verdict is in yet on this system, so we just have to keep an eye on it,” Kines said by telephone. “Boston has the most to worry about because it is farther east than everybody else.”

He also said the West Coast will be struck by a series of storms beginning tomorrow that will bring rain to central California and snow to the Sierra Nevada mountains.

“There is going to be a lot of precipitation out there,” Kines said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at

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